Remnant

Our daughter Eleanor died on 21/04/ 2020

M:

There’s still a can of diet coke in the fridge which you must have put there. I notice it every time I open the fridge, reminding me of your absence, and, also however, of your presence. I haven’t been able to throw it out, because it’s a remnant, an enduring fragment, of you.

– by the way, I’m assuming you’re not wanting to speak, but if you do, just interrupt me. I’ll be delighted –

Just this morning I was tidying a shelf in the cupboard where I keep my climbing gear, and a newish glove fell down. When I picked it up I recognised it as your Christmas present to me, last year. It’s a proper climbing glove marketed by Rab, the well-known outdoor clothing firm. It is of course, made in China. But I noticed another more surprising fact about it: it contains “non-textile parts of animal origin”. I guess you didn’t notice this, as you normally worked very hard to exclude any clothing that used animals. Or maybe you thought it was OK for me because I’m more careless, although I agree with your principle?

In any case I probably won’t use them much as they share with many other smart gloves the infuriating fault that when wet you can’t get your hands out of the glove without getting the lining as well. If this happens on a mountain, in the cold, it can be dangerous as well as fiddly. But they are of course a remnant of you, a reminder of the care you took over all sorts of occasions, festivals, birthdays, anniversaries, life-events, and not just for family but for friends as well. You spent time, and money of which you had little, trying to make your gifts appropriate and intimate. To this end also, you bought greeting cards whenever you could, especially ones that chimed with your own indecorous humour. I’m sure that years into the future I and many others will still be coming across the lively tokens of your love.

I think these gifts mattered to you because the relationships mattered, but due to your illness you worried that you might not have been able to maintain the best courtesies of friendship. Maybe you’d been out of touch, hadn’t been fit to keep an appointment, not replied to an email. You wanted therefore to re-assure your dear ones that you did value them. Perhaps also you wanted them/us to reassure you that you were valued. I hope we all did so.

As you see, I’m still talking to you, rather than about you. I hope that wherever you are, this is not noted to your discredit. “Well, Eleanor Jane, some of your earthlings are still mumbling away as if you’re in the next room. Primitive, really.”

So, honest, yes, I know there’s no social medium between me and you, but I still trust that in the unity of the One Love, it is possible to give and receive. Or is that wishful thinking?

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