Have you ever returned to the home of a loved one after they have passed? To the room they most enjoyed? The study, the kitchen, the bedroom, the garden?
When you return to the stillness, the silence, you find yourself looking for them. You search the place from bottom to top, hoping for another chance to see them, hear their voice, touch them, laugh with them.
There's a hat or jacket or blanket or pen or book or laptop that they last touched.
Their scent is still in the air.
Something left undone, lingers on a desk or kitchen table.
They are nowhere to be found, yet, still, you remain seated, as if waiting for a play or show to begin.
You ask yourself the same questions that have been asked for ages, for all of time, where has my friend/parent/lover gone? Will I ever see them again? Do they know I love them? What was the last thing I said to them? What was the last thing they said to me?
And it goes on and on.
There is something comforting about visiting a place that was sacred to a loved one. There is something in the air, you can't put your finger on it but if you listen carefully, you can hear them telling you "everything will be alright". You can feel their hand brush against your back.
There may be a painting, book, photo that has been placed somewhere they placed it, because it meant something to them, and they looked at it every day.
There's a blanket or a piece of clothing that you wrap around yourself and make it yours because it was theirs.
There's a meal you shared at the kitchen table, a bottle of wine, a deep conversation that went on from day to night.
There's everything, everywhere, exactly how they left it in its place.
And as you sit there, in their chair, in the silence, in the loss, in the despair, you become a searchlight, desperately trying to find them amongst the storm, the wind, the rain, the shadows that outpace you and the cold heart fact that you will never see them again.
No matter the first thing you ever said to them, no matter the last thing, what really matters is all that happened in-between.
So, return to that place where last they lived, I mean really lived, not a hospital bed, not the end of the end, but the good of the good, the place where the light shined in and you most want to remember them, in their garden, at their desk, at the kitchen table, planting, writing, cooking, singing, discovering every inch, every slice of the Journey that was their life.
And there it is, that place, that chair, that painting, that photo, that story left unwritten, and there it will always be.
In memory of my friend Martin Stone, a writer, a wanderer, and a ray of sunlight.