(In response to the ‘journey’ task)
I fear I have become one of those people fixated onto one subject. But I can’t help but feel the whole of the last 12 months as one long life journey, experienced in slow motion.
I can’t help but feel the difference between each lockdown.
I felt privileged in Lockdown 1.0. It gifted me the opportunity to slow down enough to step away from the everyday noise of life business that had kept me from listening to my own thoughts. I was certainly not the only one for whom lockdown 1.0 help re-evaluate a lot of stuff.
My lockdown 1.0 was also fraught with double the worries, with most of my family in Italy I lived the fear of the pandemic twice.
In Lockdown 2.0 I lost my dad. Suddenly and unexpectedly. Numb and shocked I managed to fly home despite our national lockdown to help arrange his funeral and say my last goodbye.
In lockdown 3.0 I am dealing with grief and sorrow, felt like waves, they come and go in between keeping busy with work and family life. In lockdown 3.0 I’m slowly trying to make sense of the last 3 months, which feel like 3 years.
And across my journey of the last 12 months I find myself wandering through the whole life journey of my dad. He was 38 when I was born. I was 38 when he died.
I lack concentration and focus to take my own photos at the moment. But I look through the over 4,000 I have on my phone from the last few years quite obsessively lately. I bookmarked each and everyone one with dad in it. Not that many, actually, in the end. What do we take photos of, on our phones? Who for?
And then I look at these three photos I have of him, charting his life journey from a young school child, to a young adult, to him at my wedding – this photo used at his funeral and that remembers him now in his resting place at the cemetery.
When I went home, after the funeral, before I left to return to Manchester I sought something with his handwriting on it. He loved poetry. He used to write poems out on random pieces of paper that you’d find scattered here and there around the house.
I found one. A poem by Fernando Pessoa. I took it home. Two weeks ago as I was yet again sorting through more paperwork dealing with the aftermath of his death, I turned the paper over. Random writings of some appointments or other. And at the bottom I read in Italian “La morte non è niente” (“Death is nothing at all”).
Just that one line, stained by one of his many coffees. I don’t know when he read it. I don’t know when he wrote it out. Because of the pandemic, last time we had seen each other in person was Christmas 2019.
The wickedness of this pandemic.
I found the poem online, first in Italian as I wanted to understand the words as he would have read them. And then I found the original, in English.
I share it here, as I feel and hope it will bring small comfort to anyone who happen to read this entry.
“Death is nothing at all”
by Henry Scott-Holland
Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.
Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you,
and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just round the corner.
All is well.
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!