If you animated grief I reckon it would be one of those dogs on the beach in Thailand. The kind that hobble along a few meters behind you, and sleep at the window while you relax in your air conditioned, German owned, ‘nouveau riche’ Thai operated concrete Villa.
He would be the one you made eye contact with that first day and just don’t have the heart to shoo on. He seems content, you would think, yet resigned, or maybe sad, you would say gazing down at him from the beach side bar. In reality though, as the days went on he would really just look like death knocking. Like if he spoke he would recount tales of a harsh existence. Like he just needs someone with the guts to put him out of his misery.
As you sip your Mojito you promise your companion you will not touch him. No seriously, you promise. And you certainly will not feed him. Just some water maybe. No, nothing, you promise. But then she is not looking and you whisper a kind hello. And suddenly there he is, a bestie, all yours.
I am scared to get that close to grief. I don’t imagine I could pack up and leave it in Ko Lanta. It would be in my luggage emitting mysterious odours and arousing suspicion. Or worse, I would be sorting out my affairs and joining Soi Dog, another crazy ex-pat raging against the machine.
And yet this one is a pointless battle, because grief is the silent partner to love. It waits for us to sign that dotted line before it shakes our hand. It is deception, compassion, fear, strength, guilt, regret, remorse, joy and anger. It is the dog you cannot love and cannot leave. It pulls you in and changes you. It makes you feel. It is relentless in it’s appeal.
I always thought that Phillip Larkin’s poem Going was about death, but now I imagine it might be about the inevitable grief that accompanies it:
p style=”padding-left:150px;”>There is an evening coming in
Across the fields, one never seen before,
That lights no lamps.
p style=”padding-left:150px;”>Silken it seems at a distance, yet
When it is drawn up over the knees and breast
It brings no comfort.
I feel that imminent evening coming now. As certain as sunset, it is coming to greet me again. I wrote about it when I saw the Hanky Project. I wrote that my own hanky would say: “She opened her eyes briefly in the hour that I sat looking upon her and I leapt into that last connection like she was a pool of water and I was on fire”.
I don’t know what I will write on my next hanky. I guess I am going to have to feed the dog.
I’m at the Plaza. The place he proclaimed visitation with like an accomplishment: “i went to the Plaza”. The same intonation he has when he looks at me and says “my daughter”. Gloria Jeans and raisin toast make me feel like they are with me. Dad and Bill. Matching bonnets. Slightly different accents. Arguing about details of the day Dad failed as lookout. This is the last removal day.