Tuesday, 20 November 2012

And now they are gone....

Wednesday 14th November 2012

Today has been a perfect late autumn day - still and silent save for the evocative call of woodpigeon or crow. The air was cool and the light smoky. Cream coloured sheep were etched in soft woolly groups against the sharp green of the hillsides and the blue of the skies. I took Lily for a walk once I had tired of throwing balls across the lawn, picking the last late crop of bilberries and blackberries along the way in the hope of still making some more hedgerow jam.

The landscape had subtly changed since I last did this just a few short weeks ago: the grass at the sides of the track was flatter and neater, decorated with drifts of crisp brown leaves. Looking upwards, the twisted branches of the hazel trees were silhouetted against the blue of the sky, displaying themselves in all their natural beauty.

Lily trotted along happily, sniffing the ground, scuffling through the undergrowth by the sides of the track, waiting patiently while her mistress pulled off the small shiny black berries.

From the top of the hill the startling beauty of Combs Moss struck me once more, as indeed it does every time I do the walk: the high rocky escarpments defining its imposing crescent shape, the browny purple of the springy grouse moor clothing it from end to end. Just last week two lads came a cropper up here, falling down the steep cliffs. Three air ambulances and numerous police and rescue vehicles were lighting up the night sky, throwing the rock face into stark relief. Never underestimate the natural landscape. It can be a killer without due respect.

But today all was soft and serene. A calm hung over the valley and surrounding hills which was much needed after the emotional turmoil of yesterday. I lost a dear and special friend, quite unexpectedly, despite an historical illness. The hardest thing when you lose someone is waking up the following day, seeing the sun come up and realising they are no longer walking this earth and breathing this air with you. The longing for them to be back here with you, sharing time, space and experience, whatever physical distance lies between you, is intense. It does not seem right that you are still enjoying the simple fruits of the earth and that they no longer are - that just 24 hours ago they were here, and now they are gone.

It is hard not to regret not having spent more time together, but one can never guess when time will suddenly run out. With this in mind, we must try and live each day with feeling and mindfulness, from appreciating the warmth of the sun to the love of friends and family, from the hot cup of tea after a cold walk, to the sound of children laughing. Not all days are good, many are bad: but for every bad one there will be good ones to follow, as sure as summer follows winter.

Life would be unbearable if we lived in fear and regret. We have to seek something positive, however small, in each tiny moment lived. Only then will we create the bigger picture. Life is a gift, it is not infinite, and if we are here on this earth to learn anything, it is perhaps that simple truth.

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