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Soft as soft and unassuming seemed the day you stole away. And I wondered: are transitions merely ghosts, spectres, unreal reality? The hoover softly purring on the carpet like a cat with much to do, pondering sleepily if those things can be left for another day. It was just another Saturday. The day after Friday, and the one before Sunday – or so it seemed at the time. So Saturday morning chores filled the moments and as I vacuumed vacantly, the sun shining through lace-adorned windows, my thoughts popped in and out like uninvited guests mimicking the movement of my arm as if stroking an imaginary pet.

And yet, when the telephone rang, I knew before I answered it what I would hear. I wasn’t surprised, not in the least. I had been preparing for this call for longer than I can remember. I cast my mind back and pictured us on a sandy beach with you just out of reach and felt the pang of loss. That holiday was our first and last: the grandmother, the mother, and the child – three generations together, linked by our own expression of what it meant to be family. The path we had trodden to get to the other side now blocked by the greedy, irascible sea, at first calm, luring us closer, now raging higher, threatened to prevent us from going any further. There was no alternative but to climb the steep incline or be drowned, and so mercifully we were spared. But even as we climbed,
the threat of loss hovered on that occasion, just as it did when the telephone rang.

“I think you should come straight away”, the voice was calm and caring.
“Is she …?” The words fell away. Why was I asking? I already knew the answer.
“No”, the voice said. But I knew this was an acceptable twist of the truth. We both knew – better to travel in hope. Silently, I thanked the voice realising that compassion is not a liar.

So, softly you left on a Saturday.

~ Marie Williams – April 2018