Layla's space

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams it is still a beautiful world.

Monday, December 01, 2008

To someone I never knew

I met you three times. I spoke to you once since then.

You were professional, and seemed wise beyond your years. You were efficient, and explained the process clearly and compassionately.

When the day finally came, you were there. Sombre, and wholly appropriately dressed, with an appropriate expression. You followed us in one of the appropriately sombre cars.

When we entered the chapel, I heard the music for the first time as it was meant to be heard - aloud, across a large space. Suddenly there were people turning to look at me, kindly, but wondering when I would lose it. I could feel their curiosity, compassionate though it was. At the end of the aisle was her coffin, covered in flowers. Stark.

Suddenly I was unbearably, baldly, nakedly in that moment. Suddenly I knew exactly where I was, why I was there, and what I would have to do in front of all these people. I turned around, whether deliberately to look at you, or to escape, I don't know. But I turned, and you were right behind me. You caught my panicked expression and held my gaze. It took a split second, but I knew you understood exactly how I felt in that awful reality-check moment, as my world shattered around my ears for the second time. You looked at me, and you just knew. You looked at me, you nodded, and you said 'Okay?'. That's it. With that single word, and that look, I was suddenly strong again. I walked dry-eyed to the front and listened to the rest of her music. I stood before my family, her friends and my friends and I spoke about her, about who she is and was and what she meant, and I didn't cry, I didn't lose it, I stood up straight and told them.

That was because of you. You didn't know it, and now you're gone too. Younger than me, and you're gone.

I can't think what else to say, except, belatedly, thank you. Far, far too late, thank you for what you did for me and for so many others. I hope, when your loved ones are walking down that hideous aisle toward your coffin, that they have someone behind them to catch their eye and ask, 'Okay?'.