Last night, out of a clear sky, a howling storm of grief blew in from the west.
Sometimes, I will mourn each individual, because something will remind me. The last time I cried for my dad, I was watching a film about Frankel, and it made me inexpressibly sad that the old fella was not alive to see that great horse.
But this one was completely non-specific. There was no catalyst. Suddenly, violently, unexpectedly, I missed my troika of Dear Departeds so badly I could not move or breathe.
This does not happen very often now. The thing I have discovered about the passage of time is that it does not soften the missing, but it puts longer and longer gaps of normality between the storms. This particular hurricane was not only violent, but it went on for a long time. For a while, I felt as if I were underwater. Each time I thought I had broken the surface, another wave came and crashed over my head.
Even though I know this happens, even though I know it is normal and right, the initial reaction is a kind of panic. My mind races around, trying to find something to hold onto. It needs a reason. But, shouts my rational self, you had a really good day. What is going on? yells my voice of sense; there’s no call for this, it adds, in stern reproof.
Then, when I realise it is bigger than I am, elemental, visceral, inexplicable, I give in to it. Oh, all right, says the bashed old heart, I’ll bloody well ache. Spit spot, get it all out, says the Mary Poppins voice. Better out than in.
It took about an hour. Afterwards, I felt tired and cleansed. There it all goes, the missing, the regret, the gap. It was after midnight. I took Stanley the Dog out. The snow was coming in again from the west, not yet falling, but mustering in the sky for its last big push. A miraculous effect was going on, a strange diffused light, as if the whiteness had gathered the lamplight from the village and spread it everywhere like butter. It was almost as bright as day, but a low, amber colour. Stanley bounded around, a slender racing silhouette. The beauty and stillness shimmered and sang around me. I felt lucky, and alive, and present in the world.
Must ask the Dear Readers, I thought. Must ask if this is a thing. It’s almost two years since my father died, and my first dog. Two months since the lovely old Pigeon slipped the surly bonds of earth. It seems a little peculiar to a rational mind that the grief should still be this sharp, this big.
I thought of my good day. It had been filled with laughter and love. Perhaps it was because I had a good day that the sudden mourning came. Perhaps you need to be happy to allow yourself to be really sad. Perhaps that is when you feel safe, as if knowing your body and mind can take it.
I always say the grieving must be done. Nothing worse than bottling it all up; it gets twisted inside you then, and bad things happen. Perhaps it does not stop. Perhaps it is like a rose garden, which must be tended and pruned and fertilised. I must shovel manure, or the thing will go to seed. It does astonish me, all the same. But perhaps it is a tribute, to the lost loves.
I’m fine now. The tempest has passed and the usual reasserts itself. There is six inches of snow, and more to come. The horses are still and happy in the white, mooching around their new palatial shelter, warm in their rugs. All the racing is off, so I am going to have a quiet day with a good book. As always, after these shaking blasts, I go very slowly, feeling my way back into the real world. I expect I shall make some soup. Because soup makes everything better.
Are of snow and equines:
Myfanwy the SNOW PONY:
Autumn the Filly:
With their new palace:
At the old gate:
My beloved Red, who is enough to soothe the sorest heart:
And Mr Stanley, who quite frankly is looking so handsome I have no words for it:
No hill today; lost in the snow.