Last week, the blooming heather in the hills called to me, and I set my feet upon the path to get to it. Around me there was the nutty smell of new mown hay, waiting to be bundled, the sun’s rays filtered through soft layers of cloud, and the vibrant oranges, purples, and reds of autumn’s last flowers in bloom. I watched silently as a rabbit hopped up the path on the opposite side, its cotton tail looming white against the green field.
I called out to my husband. I told him it was not right that all this vibrant beauty was here, surrounding me, and he was not here to see it. I let my tears fall onto the stone path as I breathed out the sorrow of his absence.
It feels so wrong that he is not here. That he is not sharing in the glory of these colours that he cherished. That he is missing the birthdays and anniversary dinners of his beloved family. That he can’t pop round to his sister’s house for tea. That his warm smile and welcoming face is not the face that newcomers see when they walk into the reception area at the Buddhist Centre. That he is not here to listen to those who came to him for advice and support. That he is not here to pick up his best mates from the airport when they return from their holidays. That he is not here to wrap himself around me in the middle of the night.
I have kept some things around me as reminders of his life, and his absence from this world: the soaps he used in his last bath before we readied ourselves for his son’s funeral; his favourite bowl, a large one, with chips in the side of it, that he used for his pasta and soups; his dressing gown, still hanging on its hook on the back of our bedroom door. They are only the physical remnants of his wide, expansive presence, a presence so large that it filled whatever space he inhabited.
The world feels wrong, without him in it.
It feels wrong to marvel at the way the sun streams shadow and light upon the hills, when he is not here to see it. I remember the first time he drove me through these hills, when we were new, and he told me to watch closely, and remember, because their beauty shifted and changed in each moment, and they would never look this way, again.
It feels wrong that autumn is here, and winter is coming, with the promise of snow, and he will not be seated next to the window, watching the snowflakes, his excitement that of a little boy as they fall.
It feels wrong that there is the chill in the air, and the crisp smell of leaves changing, and he is not here to pronounce their richness, or declare his love of the wonder of seasons.
It is my second autumn without him, and winter is on the horizon, and I am not sure how I am going to get through this season of darkness without his warmth and comfort.
It feels wrong that the seasons pass, and soon it will be another year, and that there has now been one whole year without him in it. And he will not be here for Christmas, his least favourite holiday, or to toast in the New Year, the holiday he loved, because it brought hope and renewal.
The world is all wrong, without him in it.
Flowers in Wrong Weather
(By Christopher Reid)
Snowdrops, crocuses and hellebore,
which last year must have done their shy, brave thing
unobserved by me, are out again this year.
Now it was a too-mild February morning.
The flowers looked misplaced, without some ice in the air
or bullying wind to give them their full meaning.
Or was it just that there was nobody to share
the annual miracle with? Crocuses piercing
the soil with a palpable pang; the dear
droop of snowdrops; hellebore
stoically averted: all missing the welcome and blessing
of the one who had planted them there.