Today I dug up 15 bamboo plants from the front border and placed them around the edge of the cave, because prospective buyers have been worried about the bare rock – is it safe for their children? It is a frustrating notion, as my children played long summers in the garden, the youngest when she was only 3, sliding down from the top to the bottom of the inside of the cave. It feels like a travesty to cover its craggy face with the bijoux fronds of bamboo. While the bamboo wait to be planted (I couldn’t pickaxe holes big enough yesterday because I was worn out carrying the plants from one place to another), I see the ghost of the cave that has stood there for the past 14 years we have lived here, majestic and dignified. It will be like covering the life scarred face of a poet with a designer beard.
My friend Rita died today. She was a tiny woman, thin and petite, her hair cut close to her scalp, but longer pixie strands haloing her face: she dyed her hair pink quite often. She was in her seventies, I think, though her attitude was of someone much, much younger. She was a devout Catholic, but espoused Buddhist theories, and liked a joke. Her accent was Liverpudlian. She had a sweet, kind sense of humour and a willingness to cheer everyone on. I shall miss her.
Ghosts fly above us. Ghosts enter us as we work. I miss all my dead people. They were all funny and kind. The good die young? Or the people more in touch with life and the world – laughter and kindness are truths in themselves, and hard to carry.
I fell, dragging two bamboo plants. I was backing up and forgot there was a rock behind me. I fell back and bruised my back and my arse and my palm and my knee. I looked up at the cave and wanted to cry at the sting of it. Often, it’s when we’re struggling to carry on, that we forget to see how others are – and they slip by and slip away, and we missed them going. I shall never see Rita again, and that feels appalling.
This house that we’re leaving is like that friend. In trying desperately to sell it and move on, we’re missing the friend that it was – we’re letting it slip away. I need to honour it.