Sunday, February 17, 2008

Travelling home to say goodbye

Usually when I’m going home it’s a good thing, to see my Mother, to see my boyfriend, or for a nice long break from Uni meaning Summertime, Christmas or Easter, Birthday time. I even enjoy the train ride. I enjoy its solitude. I even dread seeing someone I know who I will be forced to converse with. Train-time is a most wonderful alone time. Just you and your music, or you and your book to read, or you and your notebook. Or even just you. It’s nice.

I’m going home, by the sounds of it, to watch my Grandma die. When grandparents die, you immediately move to thinking of your parents, how they must feel, and how much you dread that time coming to you. Well I do anyway.

My father’s parents have both passed away. When his dad died I was, I think, aged about 14. We had to write a poem for school, so I write about my Granddad’s death. But I didn’t. I wrote about my Father and how my view of him had changed. It was, for example, the first time I saw him cry.
So here’s the poem. Finding it on my computer, I discovered I dated the file 11.11.02. So I was in fact 17.

Fallen Tree

I sat for hours in the seat behind Dad
Glimpsing trees tall and just as quickly gone
At one o’clock he pulled up at her home.

In the car I watched his mother lifeless –
He led her wheelchair to the car delicately –
And Debbie saying how lost and lonely she looked.

The Shetland fiddlers played and smiled gaily
In the church, and I was scared by Dad
Remaining deathly still as branches creaked

And leaves fell from the fir as tears off a face.
Faces once joyous are waned from straining on
Amongst their thoughts as the vicar reads the memory

Of Dad’s mighty oak, felled to the earth.
At two the bells beckoned us to the yard
With the box, blanched and buried to the ground.

That night I went to Dad’s room. The leaves had fallen
And his bark had been torn bare. I saw him
Now not as my strong Dad. But as a son

Lying in bed waiting for his father’s return
But he hasn’t a tree to lean on now.
I am sad, as I am losing mine.

A great father, a granddad now with God.

I forget whether we were supposed to imitate a particular poet’s style, or whether I was being pretentious because the format is pretty forced and clunky. Poetry isn’t exactly my thing.

Also you may note from the last line that this was at a time where I still believed that I believed in God. How five years and a moving choral moment can make you realise it’s all bollocks.

I’m scared of arriving home. I don’t like to deal with this sort of thing. I like to hide. Tomorrow I have to go to the hospital with my sister to see her. I don’t want to. Well of course I do, but I’m scared to. Scared of getting upset. Death is much easier to deal with when it is kind of detached. You get a phone call, you cry, you go to a funeral, sing hymns and watch a box being buried or burned. But I always see the box as a symbol for the life of the person. A metaphor for death, not the corpse of the person you loved actually in that box, don’t be ridiculous. If you actually force yourself to realise that they are in there, a corpse of dead flesh that once held a soul and laughter. It’s times like this that I wish that I’m wrong, that there is an afterlife, or even a God. But I don’t believe that, and I count myself amongst the atheists who find that all pretty fucking scary. Hence my fascination with religion, perhaps.

At the moment I’m reading Pascal’s Penseés and there is a passage that really hit home. I’ve shared this with a few like-minded friends before, but it’s the first time on here...

“When I see the blind and wretched state of man, when I survey the whole universe in its dumbness and man left to himself with no light, as though lost in this corner of the universe, without knowing who put him there, what he has come to do, what will become of him when he dies, incapable of knowing anything, I am moved to terror, like a man transported in his sleep to some terrifying desert island, who wakes up quite lost and with no means of escape.
Then I marvel that so wretched a state does not drive people to despair”

So, I am afraid of tomorrow. I’d rather shrink from it all.


I would put a countdown conundrum on here, but my Grandma so HATES Richard Whitely and both the Des’.

So I shall refrain.

Sophie x


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