Posted by Tania Kindersley.
So, today, after all that, there was sun. I looked at it and laughed. The trees and the grass and the moss and the lichen looked green as green. The light danced over them as if in celebration. Stop it, I thought, you didn’t have to take me literally.
The missing is still there. It’s just it’s much easier in the sunshine. I can smile and miss at the same time. Today, on the morning walk, through all the gloriousness, I thought of the Duchess and wished she were there with us. I think that is the stage that comes now. There is shock, great sadness, even a bit of despair, an odd sort of exhilaration in the face of mortality, which takes the form of: this is Life, it must be Lived, I must talk about the Big Subjects, and LOOK AT THE TREES LOOK AT THE TREES. There is a scrambling about to remember what is important; there is a return to first principles. Then that passes; the unreality passes; and something else comes, which is the missing. I miss my dog; I miss my dad. That is how it is with me now.
I’m learning to carry it with me. The sun felt like a blessing on that resolution.
So I went in, ate my breakfast, made a ridiculously strong pot of coffee, put on some Brahms, and did 1476 words of book.
Then my friend M rang up and said could she bring the great-nephew and nieces for tea. So I made a tea party. I put a blanket on the lawn, and all my special French cushions, and made some lemonade with mint, and found some jammy biscuits in the cupboard, and arranged it all, and felt quite overcome at my own domestic godessy-ness.
Those of you who read your Nancy Mitford will remember the younger Radletts, who always cheered Fanny up by arriving in her little house in Oxford and emitting shrieks. Oh Fan, they would exclaim, not Fuller’s cake. My Smalls are very small indeed, and they are not quite yet at the stage of exclaiming, but they bring the spirit of the Radletts with them. They loved the lemonade, they wanted more biscuits, they ate everything in sight, with beatific smiles on their faces. They did running races and threw the ball for the Pigeon, who loves nothing more than tiny visitors.
There was a particularly touching moment when she noticed that the smallest of the three had not yet had a go. He is very tiny indeed, not quite two, and so she carried the ball over to his feet with great gentleness and deposited it for him, nudging it towards him with a Go on, you can do it expression on her face. He has not quite got the hang of throwing, but is more of a dropping man, and she very politely pretended not to mind, but picked the ball up and gave it to him again for another go. He was quite enchanted by this new game. It’s impossible to feel sad when you see something like that.
In my grief manual, I shall say: Have small people to tea. Go slowly, and grow things in the earth, and get your youngest relations round, because that’s how life goes on.
Now for photographs:
Getting ready for our party:
Pigeon’s face after the ball-throwing:
And the lovely flowers in the sun: