Stay in the present

It’s just been confirmed that someone lovely I knew had been identified as one of the victims of the bombings in London on the 7th of June. We’ve known she was officially missing since late last week, and seeing her pictures on the front of the Independent on Sunday (a UK newspaper) at the weekend was agonising – couldn’t read it. I’ve just heard in the last few minutes it’s been confirmed – the tiny spark of hope that she was somewhere in the corner of a hospital, or lost, or hiding, has gone.

It’s been very hard not saying anything on this weblog – it seems either such a trivial medium, or that I’m trying to make her loss, or her partner’s, or her family’s my own, and while it was unconfirmed, seemed inappropriate to say here. This weblog has always been about me trying to reconnect pieces of myself up again, and make sense of my life with illness, and Liz mustn’t, can’t be used for anything but to remain herself. I feel so sorry for those who knew her, knew her much more than I did. And she’d snigger at me eulogising her as some kind of saint, and probably throw a cake at me. It’s hard to say more than that she was a very special kind of person – you know the kind you meet for the first time: you’re feeling a bit nervous, and she jumps in and surrounds you in a little invisible bubble of comfort and safety and gentle poking? She was very intelligent, very witty, without ever a trace of anything but leaping engagement and kindness. I’m sure everyone has faults, but I can’t think of any. Maybe she once burned ants with a magnifying glass when she was 10 or something. In January 2000 she called me a “little minx” – some people are very knowing.

It feels bitingly cruel of me to use the past tense about her in the preceding paragraph, like I’m physically causing someone pain. In another forum I maintained stubbornly I wouldn’t do this at least until it was confirmed. It feels like forcing something, like trying to accelerate backwards in a car. I still feel like that about my mum: she died before the internet, and she’s still a present-tense person to me. I actually have to correct myself to using the past as the words slip out. Maybe this is my christian heritage – a relic of the time I believed there was someone who loved me infinitely, and who would look after me forever. Or maybe it’s because she is around: my mum, my only achille’s heel to agnosticism in my atheist’s cell. Maybe Liz will always be present tense to me too – maybe she should be.

So, no eulogies, no ranting about whose fault I think this is, aside from the wicked and stupid souls who blew themselves to pieces to ruin so many others’ lives: that’s for another day. And not to forget how many people die every day in Iraq, and how every human’s soul is equal in weight: just a recognition that I knew this soul, and that makes a difference to mine. Liz, stay in the present tense: you’re so wildly missed and when the web pages dreading then mourning such an early loss are old, you’ll still be wildly missed. I hope, hope that those for whom your loss cuts the most deeply will find the most love and reason to get through this. And that you’re safe.

Liz usually used to end her mails with a quote: I’ll end with one of hers from 2002:

So then, farewell.
Your arse
Was far too special for them
Anyway.
Or so your mother said.

7 thoughts on “Stay in the present”

  1. Well, I don’t know you but, for what it’s worth, I’m very sorry to hear that. I was (unusually) very upset by what happened in London and I can’t imagine what it must be like for you and her other friends and family.

    Needless to say, please don’t bother about our discussion for the time being.

  2. Thanks for thinking to comment SF, and coming back. I emphatically do want to carry on out discourse, and will as soon as this, and my illness start to clear in my head – still quite bedbound and about to embark on some medical treatment that may make me worse for a few weeks. I need to post about that too, as it’s exhausting keep others up to date via email. But please look back sometime. Discussion like ours do me good.

  3. Oh God honey, I don’t know what to say, this is so unbelievably sad. Your friend sounds brilliant, that quote at the end is great. Take care of yourself. Big hug.

  4. Thanks Kellie and Apey – it’s kind of you to leave a message. It must be hard enough reading these things about people you don’t know.

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