Do you believe in signs? Do you believe that things didn’t happen in your life because they were not meant to be?
Lately I am relentlessly being haunted by two regretful phrases: “if only” and “what if”. What if so and so or if only such and such… I go down memory lane and I think of all the things I could have done and yet somehow I never did! All the opportunities I let slip by! All the friendships that I let fade away due to my displacements. All the loved ones I lost over the years.
What if we hadn’t moved to Montreal? Or if only we had known earlier. Then at that moment I am overwhelmed by this haunting feeling that is in the room, in the house. A presence that seems like a loved one hovering, a beloved soul lingering.
I look around to see him at his easel painting. Instead I find his photos, our photos taken at different times in our lives, everywhere in the house. And I look at them one by one, even though I remember every single detail in them off by heart. And I am mad and sad and angry because as Lois de Bernières wrote:
“What troubled him was that all those pictures were taken in a present, a present that had gone. How can a present not be present? How did it come about that all that remained of so much life was little squares of stained paper with pictures on it?”
And I look at those photos, our photos, our story, our life together.
Now all that remains from that life are those pictures. And with every picture I remember the moment when it was taken. And with every memory comes the overwhelming feeling that all is over. That the line between life and death is so thin and that when someone crosses that line that’s it. There is no turning back.
And I cry for his life that was cut short. I cry for all the things he will miss and not see or do. I cry, to use Ray Bradbury’s words:
“And when he died, I suddenly realized I wasn’t crying for him at all, but for the things he did. I cried because he would never do them again, he would never carve another piece of wood or help us raise doves and pigeons in the backyard or play the violin the way he did, or tell us jokes the way he did. He was part of us and when he died, all the actions stopped dead and there was no one to do them the way he did. He was individual. He was an important man. I’ve never gotten over his death. Often I think what wonderful carvings never came to birth because he died. How many jokes are missing from the world, and how many homing pigeons untouched by his hands? He shaped the world. He did things to the world. The world was bankrupted of ten million fine actions the night he passed on.”