Friday, June 25, 2004

Dip Your Finger Into The Sea

Because no one else wanted to do it, our yaya pulled out the remaining boxes of my sister’s things from under her bed this week. I was surprised they were still there – I had gone over the contents of her bedroom and closets at least twice last year and assumed I had taken care of everything. Sorting through her things -- I don’t believe it will ever turn into a casual activity for me. There has to be a certain buckling down to do it, an internal preparation. Like climbing a cliff. Or jumping off of it.

Two cartons, full of everyday things. Books, videos, scripts and papers. A stick of really tacky plastic flowers given as a token, I would have thrown those out, but not her. It strikes me that these inanimate, basically inconsequential things have physically outlived her. Handbags, CDs she treasured. Mobile phone, digital organizer, receipts. Wallet, hairbrush, cologne.

Then my mother pulls out a book from the box – A Grief Observed, by C.S. Lewis. He writes about the loss of his wife, the journey back to faith. The book’s flyleaf is signed to my sister by Douglas Gresham, Lewis’ stepson, whom she had the privilege of meeting and working with. And then a sheet of paper between the pages, in her writing:

As we part and say goodbye
Weep not, do not cry
Just dip your finger into the sea
And know that somewhere
The water that you touch
Somehow touches me

Gresham had written this for his wife, if I recall correctly. My sister liked it enough to have made note of it. In a roundabout way it travels back to my family and me. I appreciate the “arrangements” made for my benefit.

Last year on my island holiday, I climbed one of the highest points and scattered a handful of my sister’s ashes into the sea just before sunset. The sky had turned into the gentlest of pinks, yellows and blues, sweet this time instead of the riotous reds and oranges of the previous days. My sister and I agreed that it was one of the finest afternoons we had ever shared.


Post a Comment

<< Home