Elegy For Catherine

The card sits, still unwrapped
Let alone written
let alone sent.
A sympathy card
A bereavement card
(I’ve had a few)
Whatever you wish to call it;
The ‘socially done’ thing where I live
Unopened, unwritten, unsent.
Who is it for?
Her? You? Me? All?
And flowers normally sent, in this place I live.

I know you loved them……
Aside from the circumstances
– Jews don’t send flowers to funerals –
I don’t like cut flowers. At all. Never did.
Dead the moment they are picked,
Dead for the dead.
Death for the dead.
Oh, bright, colourful death!
And lilies so often included in funereal displays
Deadly to cats
And you and I and she love cats.

I hate cut flowers.
I hate all they symbolise
(Memories of bunches of mimosa sent from afar……
I a child, seeing these weird little yellow pompoms
Weird and strange and slightly sinister,
Like everything else in my life)
Selfish cut flowers
Better left for all
Better a bluebell wood
Than a fistful of already half dead bluebells
Dying in a jeely jaur
(Though love the childhood thought behind them; that’s different.
The exception. I’m not that heartless)

No, let flowers grow
Give joy to all
Live their little lives as they were meant to

You, my dear, so full of life
So much you went through:
Not just physically
But so many other ways.
Some we shared –
You helped
You listened
Remembering the time you texted me through a visit to my mother
To help me through it.

A wicked sense of humour
Disarming honesty (self and other)
Kindness overwhelming
Sang like an angel
Love of life, overflowing: but…….
Life was not kind to you, my friend,
In so very many ways.

Such strange circumstances began our friendship –
Even stranger ones continued it;
You understood things few do
(Unless they’ve been been through it, which you had)

I wish I could write this better
I wish I was ‘clever with words’
Words do not always – often – come easy to me
When I want and need them
But I know that when I open that packet
See that card
Write it
Stamp it
Post it
Send it to your wife
Your death will become real
And you will be gone.

I know your religion gave you comfort
As mine does me
The Catholic and the Jew
I don’t do things the proper way
It just comes from the heart
I know G-d understands
And He’s your G-d too –
Just different journeys

Goodbye, sweet friend
You who heard my secret
You, the first I told
‘Superdoc’ and ‘Wonderdyke’
The names we gave each other.

Please take this meaningless card gesture
Know that the real feeling is within
And cannot be spoken
For it has no words

Cuddle your cats in heaven
All pains gone
G-d’s comforting shawl wrapped lightly round your little shoulders

PS join the choir –
There’s a space there shaped exactly for your sweet voice

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