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Thursday 18 April 2024

Love Is Stronger Than Death

I've had a bit of a rough time recently, everything seems very close to the surface. The things that distract me- music, blogging, reading (and also these things aren't just distractions, they're the bread and butter of my life in some ways)- still do their job but the long road through grief is exactly that, a long road. Every time you think you've rounded a corner, you get whacked again. The last few weeks have brought all sorts of things up. I don't know why, it's unpredictable and sometimes inexplicable- there doesn't have to be an obvious trigger or an anniversary. Sometimes it's just bad again and I've learned that times like this just has to be accepted and felt and gone through. When other things are also tough- work for instance- it can replace the grief for a while but mainly it amplifies it. Two weeks ago I had a few days where I was utterly pissed off and quite angry- I'm not generally an angry person. Grief seems to turbo charge emotional responses and whereas in the early days and months I could shrug things off- some things, big to other people, seemed inconceivably small to me, no one had died so these things didn't matter. More recently I have been less able to do that. I don't think the saying about time healing is true- you just get used to living with it. 

We decided recently that it was time to get Isaac a headstone. It's been a long story. We went very early on to a stonemason and it felt a bit like we were ordering a new sofa. We then left it for eighteen months, none of us able to deal with the finality of ordering a headstone, deciding on wording and seeing it put in place. There came a point last year where we just felt ready. We tried a different stonemason but for various reasons he couldn't get what we wanted. Two months ago we went back to the first mason, starting back at the beginning, ordered a stone and felt some relief. A few days ago we decided on the wording. We're hopeful it might be installed in the summer. Isaac's birthday and the anniversary of his death are both late November, then quickly comes Christmas and then a long winter into spring. Having the headstone erected in July and maybe marking it in some way, in the summer months with warmth and sun and late light evenings, feels like it might break the sometimes wintry feel we often have at the cemetery. 

We go to see Isaac at least once a week, a visit to his grave has become part of our ritual. At first going to see him was tough but felt necessary but it did feel like every time we went we had to say goodbye to him again. As time has gone on and the rituals of visiting him have developed, going to his grave has started to feel like we go to say hello to him. We've tried to keep the flower pots and planters full of colour through the two winters he's been there, planting daffodils and white flowers, taking tulips and daffs for the vase and keeping the grave feeling fresh. In some ways when we go it feels like we're still looking after him. The pigs in the field behind the cemetery often come up to the fence. The pylons overhead buzz a little. More often than not the bus goes past on the road in the distance. All these things seems to be part of him now. 

This song was written by Matt Johnson in the aftermath of the death of his brother Eugene in 1989 and recorded for The The's Dusk album, released in 1993. I hadn't listened to it for many years until Khayem posted it at Dubhed a few weeks ago. It seems to sit (partly at least) somewhere in the space that I am currently in. 

Love Is Stronger Than Death

'Me and my friend were walking/ In the cold light of morning/ Tears may blind the eyes but the soul is not deceived/ In this world even winter ain't what it seems'

I believe that the friend referenced in the first line is Johnny Marr. Matt and Johnny were walking in one of London's parks after a night in the studio recording.

'Here come the blue skies, here comes the springtime/ When the rivers run high and the tears run dry/ When everything that dies shall rise'

Our visits to the cemetery have changed, become a positive, part of a weekly ritual that we do for him. Sometimes it genuinely does feel like we go to say hello and that indeed love is stronger than death. 

This section is longer and more complex, and you probably don't need my commentary on it, so I'll just leave it here. 

'In our lives we hunger for those we cannot touch/ All the thoughts unuttered and all the feelings unexpressed/ Play upon our hearts like the mist upon our breath/But, awoken by grief, our spirits speak: "How could you believe that the life within the seed/ That grew arms that reached and a heart that beat/ And lips that smiled, and eyes that cried/ Could ever die?"

Here come the blue skies/ Here comes the springtime/ Love is stronger than death'


Rol said...

You write so eloquently about such a tough subject, Adam. I was particularly moved by your description of the sights and sounds in the cemetery, and how these have become part of your memories.

I hope things feel a little better soon.

Ernie Goggins said...

What Rol said. Thinking of you all.

Alistair said...

Same xx

C said...

With love and thoughts from me too x

bluebetty44 said...

Echo the thoughts of the above comments.
Take care xx

Swiss Adam said...

Thanks everyone, I appreciate your thoughts and support, I really do.

I wrote this two days ago, sat on it for a while. The same night after writing it I listened to a few songs and eventually landed on Nothing To Be Done from Bill Ryder- Jones' album, a song that broke me in two. Sobbing. And since then I've felt a bit better, like the storm broke and I surfaced again. Maybe the catharsis of writing about it and the rawness of the song did the trick- the power of music and writing to sort one's head out a little, pull one's emotions back into some kind of equilibrium for a while.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful and powerful words Adam. Thank you for sharing. Sending peace and love from Ireland x

Pete from Minnesota said...

I add my voice to those above, with great appreciation for you and everything you share here.