My father died on the 4th of this November. By some strange coincidence a character in Poet’s Cottage dies at the same time. I’m not surprised because the creation of Poet’s Cottage and my father’s own journey with his cancer ran parallel lines at times. Even as I sat at his deathbed holding his hand, I was checking final proofs. My father, who supported my writing so much, would have approved.
My father was a huge inspiration on my writing and shared my love of words and nature.
I know my father’s spirit survived his physical death. I will always look for signs from him and have had a couple already including the most remarkable dream of a blue butterfly the night following his passing.
On the 8th of November, four nights after my father’s death, I woke at 3.28 am and wrote the following lines in my journal.
Communion, time for communion, the moon is waxing. Full, round and glowing. Like bones or the eye of a benevolent god. All ships must come to port. I am not afraid. For you are here. The moon outside the window is whispering not the end of the tale but the beginning. Singing the ancient lullaby to ensure a smooth and sacred passage over uncharted waters to the land of the ancestors and the eye of the moon. I do not sleep. I think of all the great ships who must come to port, the first and last breath and the sweet moments in between. Between the bones, the rigging, lies sacred flesh, a will to live and a blackbird drinking in a birdbath. It is 3.28 am. My father at 4 am took his last breath and swallowed the luminous moon.
Thank you to all the kind people who sent me emails and love and my friends who realised where I had disappeared to. Thank you to Pan Macmillan for support and of course my wonderful agent, Selwa Anthony. It meant a lot to my family that my father was so happy with all the good news surrounding Poet’s Cottage and my other book being picked up before he died.
There are no goodbyes between my father and myself. At the same time, I feel shattered and grief-stricken and thankful that I am checking the proofs of Poet’s Cottage. Words, stories, books have always been my refuge. I will hide myself away in the writing shed and hope my heart will start to beat a little stronger as the days pass.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning