Sunday, 18 January 2015

In memory of special times and a special person.

For Susan

12 months ago on 14th January, I lost a dear friend, and I wrote this when I learned she had passed ,in her memory.

Love has been the raging torrent that has carved out the landscape of my life
And Sue was there in the pure virginal meadow of my youth to witness the emergence of the spring from whence that river grew.
I loved her with the totality that only a 10 year old boy can muster, absorbed completely by her beauty and grace. She was my world, and the river began to shape and sculpt me.
Long summer afternoons playing in her garden between high hedges
Holding hands on a Sunday school trip while we watched the sun hanging low over a glass-still lake at the foot of the Mourne Mountains.
In these moments the poet and the artist in me were born, growing from a need to express the unbearable beauty of life.

In teenage years we briefly met again, and again I offered my heart in an awkward adolescent way to my muse.
Without malice or intent she stood me up on a warm summers day, and finding that I was tall enough if not old enough to buy alcohol I sought solace in my first cheap wine and cigarettes, retreating to the shade of an Irish hedge and punishing myself for hurting so much. Thus I embarked on a successful career as a serial drinker and smoker. I don’t bemoan these things or complain. I excelled in debauchery and I found a sense of belonging that had previously eluded me amongst other artistic souls, dented and damaged by love and life. From the twisting smoke of these first cigarettes a life long friendship was born, and many problems were caused or solved, and many other friendships forged and lost , all with the aid of alcohol and tobacco.

Through all of my adult life, when things felt disjointed, I would fantasize that our orbits might cross in some romantic way, and we could recapture those moments of pure romance. She was, however unwittingly, my emotional safety net.
But it was never destined for us. Many years later we found each other again, by now both of us with families of our own. And we were happy. Our rivers had taken different courses, and hers had meandered through other lives, bringing that same sweet smiling joy to people I would never know. For the first time in my life I was truly happy, so when we sat down , her family and mine, for an oh-so-brief coffee and cake, I knew that our destinies were not as lovers. I no longer needed a soft place to fall.
And I smiled.
I was pleased for the love she had in her life, for her faith, for her family, for all of those things that she had found and I had found that would forever keep us apart.

We kept in touch rarely now, always with the warmth of "just friendship" rendering our connection safe and non-threatening.

But Sue was my first muse
You never forget your first.

Her river no longer cascades……

But I still hear it’s roar.
And the landscape that river carved in my soul in the very beginning is forever my home.
Goodbye, “little blonde plaits”
I will never forget.


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