Our daughter Eleanor died on 21st April of this year.
Me: As soon as I saw it I thought of you. I was back from a short walk in the hills, on a day which had begun with mist and rain, but dried up mid-morning, to provide glimpses of sunshine. As I looked over the bridge on to the pools below I was seized with the impulse to swim in them, to feel the clean warmth of a summer river, to be part of its life. I didn’t because I had no trunks, although there was nobody in sight…
El: …getting old, I guess. I can remember you swimming in your boxers in the North Esk at the Burn, and me in bra and knickers, while young men shouted randy appreciation (I think of me) from the pathway above. But we always noted suitable pools of rivers or burns which would be suitable for what you called a “plonge” on our return from a climb. I suppose the fake french gave the prospect a touch of sophistication…..
M: …a little je ne sais quoi, I would say. But yes, knowing I couldn’t just turn to you, I immediately thought I would tell you about it and plan to come back together. Still here we are, wherever that is.
E: It’s where we are together. When I had a mortal body I could experience the pleasure of just being that body in nature, in its ecosystem, without thought, like a dog or an otter. Here, in a different body there are equivalent pleasures, but I will never now take a plonge in these pools. You’ll have to do it for me. It’s good to talk…
M: You’ve been talking at length in a number of my blogs….
E: Too true! How come I end up doing monologues in a kind of modern McGonagall-esque rhyming verse? Of course people here understand what’s happening, but what about my reputation in the world- among my friends for example? Maybe they wonder why being dead means composing bad rhymes.
M: I’m sorry if it seems bad to you. Of course all the words attributed to you come through me. But I protest that those poems are not written in my style, but in some sense, in yours ; that is, your voice in my voice. Don’t you accept any responsibility for them?
E: Do you ask my permission before you start one of them? Or do you in fact assume that all this dialogue is fake, and that you are the only person actually involved?
M: No, I don’t think that. I have no formal way of asking your permission, just the informal commitment to thinking my way into your skin – or whatever you have now- while attempting to imagine you in your mew life. I rigorously try to exclude from these poems anything that represents my views or prejudices. Of course I don’t succeed, but I do try to listen to you.
E: …..interesting you should refer to skin, which is the physical and often mental boundary of our earthly selves. You have understood to some degree, that here, in God, our boundaries become unnecessary and are worn away, so that we learn not to exclude other persons, and to be ready to be included by them in turn. At the same time we don’t become undifferentiated mush; we are still persons, but persons more and more in community.
M: The Communion of Saints we call it here….
E: But did you ever preach about it? Of course it’s not always a delight. I’m now more than ever open to the suffering of animals and human beings from climate change. Good people are still too hesitant to do anything definite, while bad people are already trying to ensure that when the shit hits the fan, the resources for life will be in their hands.
M: So you must know that I’m seriously trying to believe in you, and to listen to you, yes?
E: Yes. And I also know that I’m not earthly anymore; and just as I can’t have a swim in the River Esk, I can’t, except through you and others, speak to anyone on earth. As God can’t.
M: The channels are that important?
E: You know this from Bible, God only speaks to those who love him and listen.
M: So it’s ok to keep writing poems in your voice?
E: Yes, but listen very carefully please.
M: We’ll talk again soon?
E: Yes, thanks, it’s my pleasure, like a plonge in a summer river….