BY RICHARD WHITE
The phrase "moving experience" has taken on a new meaning in recent weeks. Our house is “on the market”. Tidiness is rampant and nothing can be found. The other day we lost the dog, later discovered in a cupboard with my favourite books and assorted items of clothing.
It’s important to put on a show, to create an impression. The real estate men talk about a splash of red here, a scarf on the back of a chair. Walking through the house rubbing rosemary in your hands is also helpful, apparently. Then, occasionally, I meet people who ask if I will miss the place, the house, and the area.
I realise I haven’t thought about it. The mood is more about getting the best price and finding the dog rather than reflecting on memories. But, as I’m writing this, that is what I am doing.
This is the house we shared with my parents-in-law. They are both dead, but their spirits are around. I am still using some of my father-in-law’s tools and lamenting a lack of his practical know-how. At Christmas, we cooked some of my mother-in-law’s favourite recipes.
Various parts of the house, and rooms, have particular memories of meals, parties, sadness, conflict, grandchildren, beginnings, endings ...
It seems just a short time ago I came to live here. I tell people, as I get older time seems to contract. Past images, smells, events have a vividness sharper than the original experience. This place is redolent – a wonderful word – with life, my life, our lives.
These reflections do not lead to sadness or regret. I am not sure what the thought or feeling is. Swimming into this meditation come other houses, places where I have lived, where life flowed and occurred.
As far as I know, I’m not dying, “life flashing before my eyes”. On the contrary, I am entering more into life, the continuity as well as the moments, the fleshiness of it as well as the ungraspable.
That may well be it! A moving experience is not something I control or conduct. It is allowing my self to relax and for reverie to happen. That may have been what was happening at the funeral earlier this week, Pat’s funeral.
I met Pat six years ago when she wanted someone to talk to. We talked and remained in contact. She was well known to the staff at WN Bull Funeral Directors where I work. She would phone and asked to speak with “Spunky” and I would greet her warmly with “Hello, Sparkles!”
Pat had multiple ailments, diabetes, a heart condition, melanomas and in recent years, Parkinson’s Disease. She also had a cheeky sense of humour, courage, a love of life and a homespun faith. I thought I would be more affected by her death and funeral. Now I understand better what was happening.
Pat’s funeral was a moving experience. As I’ve let go of the analysing, the self-concerns and the every-day awareness, I find myself slipping into life, the moving, shifting, revealing flow. Pat’s there, along with the dog, our dog, whose welfare was a concern of hers, and other bits and pieces ... including my self, part of it all, not the centre or the focus, by any means. And, it’s a moving experience.
Richard White is bereavement counsellor at W.N. Bull Funeral Directors in Sydney.
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