Farewell

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Part way up the mountain in Macedon, we said goodbye to my
niece.  It was freezing despite the
faintest glimmer of sunshine.  
The organisers had set up a marquee in a secluded section of
the gardens at Duneira, a reception centre that mainly caters for weddings and
other life inspiring events.  
It was uncanny the way I found myself – I was not alone in
this –using the word ‘wedding’ in the place of funeral.  It was also understandable, because in
November last year, my niece and her partner were married in the sun in Portsea and the festivities
were similar, much happier, but even then we knew about the gruesome diagnosis
and that it was only a matter of time before we would be saying goodbye. 
Even in her dying, my niece worried about polluting the earth
with her chemical soaked remains and so she organised an environmentally sustainable funeral where they did not use more chemicals to keep her body life-like after death. 
Nor did she use a coffin. 
Instead, her family wrapped her in a shroud, which they and others who had
attended an earlier vigil, decorated with drawings and messages.  A simple calico coloured cloth that housed
her body before cremation. 
They rested my niece on a flat board
with handles on either side, which the pallbearers used to carry her out. 
We all brought flowers and foliage from our gardens and
spread them around her body during the service and then later the funeral
assistants carried these cuttings, flowers and branches in huge strips of cloth behind
the hearse.  
My niece’s immediate family walked before the hearse as it
drove down the hill to the main road and the rest of us formed a guard of honour
on either side to farewell this beloved young woman.  
All the cliché’s come to my mind and I try to push them
away. 
I dreamed this morning that my niece’s father, my brother, stayed at my house.  He was looking for
things to repair he said.  He liked to keep himself busy. 
Keep busy, he and his wife said after the funeral, as they
handed out food to guests.  Keep busy, as
if in doing so they could keep on living. 
If we stop we die, too. 
We join my niece in her frozen state.  
In the past week I find myself overcome by a type of malaise
that leaves me unmotivated beyond my work and the normal domestic duties of my
days.  
I find myself wanting to withdraw
from the extra-curricula.  
I find myself wanting
to sleep more than usual. 
I find myself wanting to avoid writing. 
I tell myself I’ve written enough words for any person’s lifetime.  Maybe it’s time to start editing and erasing.  Prune back the words to their bare
minimum. 
I know of at least two successful writers who reckon that
most people write too much.
I felt chastened when they first told me this.  It left me feeling clumsy and loud, as if I had
spilt out my thoughts in a useless array when I should be more like my friends and sit
for hours in silence before I let one single sentence appear on my screen. 
Everything else is mere indulgence.  

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1 Comment on Farewell

  1. Anonymous
    June 13, 2015 at 4:16 am (2 years ago)

    You would know better than many, Elisabeth, the state you are in. The lethargy, the hopelessness, the nothingness. Personally, I am finding myself questioning all my life philosophies, the truths and the lies and it saddens me that the person who supported them is the cause of it.

    Why must young people die when they are needed the most?

    I don't think it is about how much one writes, it is about how you arrange the words.
    You arrange well.

    I once heard Mem Fox, the children's author, being interviewed the interviewer said it must be easy writing for children.
    Mem looked horrified
    "Oh, NO," she said "it's terrible. Sometimes it can take me all day just to write one word, because it has to be the perfect word." and her story of 'Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge' has the most perfect words. I cry every time I read it.

    Karen C

    Reply

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