I’ve been thinking about the lines in No Man is an Island, that we are all diminished by one person’s death. What exactly does it mean? That we are all mortal? Or that a little bit of us is chipped away when someone we love dies?
Therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.
It’s true; every time someone we love dies we feel a little bit of us is chipped away; a part of us cut out and thrown into the fire. It reminds us, too, of our own mortality – something most of us would rather forget, and yet we are never more alive than when we are aware that life is limited. If we had endless time, imagine what we could do – yet what would we do? I suspect we’d simply sit around like the Captain of the Golgafrincham ship in HitchHiker’s, order another G&T and put some more hot water in the bath. Mozart died at 24 and look how much work he did! We should act like there’s no tomorrow. Then again, as this Peanuts cartoon points out, that doesn’t work for everyone.
It was Lynne’s funeral yesterday. Because of lockdown we weren’t able to go; attenders were limited to 25 in the church and nobody was allowed to sing, so those of us on zoom had to belt out the hymns – which we did, though I’m not sure if anyone could hear us. It was a very moving service and surprisingly cathartic – for us at least. They also had one of my favourite poems: Wordsworth’s heartbreaking sonnet Surprised by Joy.
Everyone deals with grief in their own way and everyone has their own ideas of how to go about it. You mourn, then when you think you’re done mourning, you mourn some more – and then some more. But then we must live. If death teaches us one thing, it’s this:
Carpe diem. Live.