The title is taken from a poem of the same title by W.H. Auden.
Ever been to a funeral? Ever offered condolences to the bereaved?
I recently gave my condolences to an old lady who lost her husband. When I met her, she smiled at me. A smile of joy on seeing a known face. A smile that told me that it meant a lot to her that I came and met her. Her face reflected a very deep understanding, a deep sadness that I can never fathom.
“Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone.
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone.
Silence the piano and with muffled drum,
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.”
She was a sixty something, rheumatoid arthritis patient, who had just lost her husband to Parkinson’s. Having lived more than half her life with him, having been his pillar of support as he fell and fell, as he struggled, she finally bade him farewell. How difficult that is I can only imagine.
“Let aero planes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message- HE IS DEAD
Put crepe bows ‘round the white necks of public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.”
Being a prisoner to one of the most painful diseases known to man did not deter her from supporting her husband. He was wheelchair bound. She ferried him around. He talked in indecipherable verse. She deciphered it all. She accustomed herself to his habits. She let her routine surround him in every aspect. She suppressed her pain so she could cater to his needs.
“He was my North, my South, my East, and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest.
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song.
I thought love would last forever, I was wrong”
She sacrificed so much. For what?
She loved him. And her love drove her to do what she did. To us, common folk, what she did for him is supernatural. But to her, what she did was only love. She showered him with her affection, her care, and her warmth. He probably died praying for her. Thanking fate and destiny to have had a wife as amazing as her.
“The stars are not wanted now, put out every one.
Pack up the moon, and dismantle the sun.
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood,
For nothing now can ever come to any good.”