a shattered silence

This blog has been silent for a month – yes, the usual reasons: too much work, nothing to say. Though the latter is not really true. I could write about visits to concerts or operas. I could, and probably will, write about the visit to Kyiv – and there’s an opera house in that too. However, many of my posts have been stimulated by emotions. And this week was a week of high emotion, a silence shattered.

I have always hated the word ‘gobsmacked’ – it seems such an uncouth, ugly word – yet, on Monday, I suddenly knew what it meant in all its power, and there was no other word to describe my reaction. I’m just parking the car at work, and Alexandra asks me if I’ve heard the news about Tiny’s husband. ‘He’s had a heart attack and has died.’ What! I don’t know what to say. The shock is no different than if one of the Klitschkos has laid me low with a thumping right-hander. I am gobsmacked. For once it is exactly the right word.

The news spread fast. Britt and Niels filled me in with the details as far as they knew. Tiny is looking at her emails, they say. I compose a hurried message and hit send – and immediately realize I’ve misspelled Martin’s name. ‘Dumb idiot,’ I say to myself. I couldn’t really send a correction. You don’t do that. I buy a card and write the words that ineptly express my feelings and sympathy. I’m sure I make mistakes – should it be a ‘d’ or a ‘t’? And … why didn’t I write it out first, and then copy neatly onto the card? The handwriting would certainly have been better.

I remember vividly the most pleasurable walk a small group of us took in the woods and fields only a few months ago, with Martin and Tiny. Martin delighted in pointing out trees and plants and features of the landscape. He was in his element, nature. The rustle and crunch of the dried leaves under our feet. The sudden whistle and shriek of the blackbird, disturbed by our arrival. Martin was enthused by the visual and the vocal of the natural surroundings. And you could see how much Tiny and Martin formed a perfect harmony, complementing each other.

Now the abrupt shattering of that harmony. The memorial ceremony mirrored that harmony in its dignity – the music of the trumpets and the touching and moving elegies. Martin would have liked that, I thought. I liked that, I thought. In every moment I could reflect my own loss. ‘Morning has broken’ induces tears. How we fight to hold back the tears. No, it shouldn’t be my tears this day. I relive and endure my own loss through the losses of others. Perhaps that’s the secret of empathy. No loss is the same, and everyone experiences a loss differently. But nevertheless my loss helps me to understand the loss others suffer, Tiny’s loss, Tiny’s emptiness. An emptiness in the spirit.

I began writing this to the background of birdsong, natural, and have ended it listening to William Croft’s Ode for the Peace of Utrecht, especially ‘The Soul of Musick is the Soul of Peace’ – it mirrors the loss. Perhaps I can now write the final stage of the ‘Grave Memories’ posts: the loss of Eva.

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