A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Monday, 21 February 2011

The Trouble Of Parting


Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

CANON HENRY SCOTT HOLLAND (1847-1918)

(Quotation found in my mother's commonplace book. Mum was, in the eyes of the world, a gentle, but convinced and fervent Christian. Though it has occurred to me lately, reading in between the lines of her diaries and journals, that she must have had her doubts and spiritual crises like everyone.)

15 comments:

Grizz………… said...

Your Mum was both lovely and thoughtful, as some of her books, quotations and the page from her journal you've recently shared attest. But never forget, her faith was all the stronger for this—for it is one thing to follow and practice thoughtlessly, and quite another to have made an informed decision and continued commitment. Death—especially that of a loved one—always brings one to the threshold of faith and belief…because the loss is immediate and real. You are faced with the fundamental question which must be answered with more than mere intellect. That your mother did so and remained firm says a great deal about her humanity, her intellect, her courage, and her strength of will. Christianity is not just a choice, it's an action—a placing of everything that matters upon your convictions and moving foward.

ksam said...

That is the most perfect description! That is how I've come to talk to my mum over the years. I find my self talking to her with every stitch I make on my granddaughters quilt and every morning cup of coffee. It's lovely when you reach that point of freedom, to talk of and too them again. It takes a while to reach that point, but it does happen. I'll have to share this quote with my "eldest" d-i-l, whose barely past a year into this part of her life's journey. So young to have to be "alone" on this side. Thanks!

Bonnie said...

What a meaningful gift left by your mother for you to find one day. Whether or not you espouse her religious leanings, you know what her wishes for you were/are, and how loving and generous of spirit she was.

I hope, if appropriate, you will continue to share bits and pieces of her journal here.

She was a beautiful woman, btw.

Luiza said...

"Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room.". I read this in awe of writers who can express their thoughts so beautifully.

I have always spoken to my deceased parents as if they were with me. My father has helped me get up many a hill on the Camino.

Thank you Robert for sharing these words from your mother's books.

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

I find the photo quite riveting; there is a playful look in her eyes and she seems to be repressing a smile. I find myself wondering who took the photograph... As for the words, what can I say? Stirring and wise, a gentle ancient wisdom spoken softly from the next room, from right around the corner. These are words to carry with us and not just to recall in cemeteries or anniversaries, but everyday around every kitchen table around the world.

Dan Gurney said...

What a lovely post, Robert. My mom died 14 years ago. Oddly, I've grown more fond of her and feel much much closer to her today than I felt when she was alive in body.

I say alive in body because her body died. My real mom is certainly quite alive in me today.

Laura said...

Thank you for this. A dear friend died last month and these words have been the most helpful that I have found. It gives permission to keep our friendship alive and real, even though she is gone.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I like this quotation Robert and have heard it many times. I think everyone has their doubts and everyone has their opinions and i don't think it matters what they are as long as one can get things in some kind of perspective to suit oneself.

Ruth said...

Those are some cheekbones. Beautiful. There is something so powerful about the photo, I agree with Lorenzo. The straight-on look, the confidence. Very lovely.

The quote is really a gift. Of course those of us who are left behind can't find it too easy to live the words, but there is much truth in them. It also makes me think about how much I need to treasure conversations and time spent with my loved ones now, while they're here.

am said...

These are lovely posts about your mother and her life and the gifts she passed on to you. Her handwriting looks very much like my mother's handwriting. It is a delight to see that photograph of her.

I like this the best from the quotation she saved:

"There is absolute and unbroken continuity."

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for all these wonderful comments, everyone. It seems my post has triggered lots of mother -memories.

Grizz... 'Death - especially that of a loved one - always brings one to the threshold of faith and belief.' Thanks for your kind and beautiful words.

Karin... Yes, indeed. Death is no respecter of age.

Thanks, Bonnie... I hope to do a few more posts about my mother. I'm searching for her little sketchbook, but can't immediately put my hands on it...

And thanks too, Luiza... I like the way your father helped you up those hills...

Lorenzo... I think the photo was some professional shot with a big, box camera, taken during WWII. I think that coat she's wearing is an army coat (she was in the 'Searchlights').

Thanks for your succinct and quite lovely comment, Dan.

I like the way you express that, Laura. How blessed I am with my blogreaders!

Pat, yes, I think we all have doubts and opinions on just about everything (ref. your recent blog discussion on bus passes and public libraries!)

I think she was a beautiful woman, Ruth, both inside and outside. I find the photo powerful - of course, I would - but I'm touched it also has that effect on others. There's a playfulness there, and a confidence - and a shyness too, I feel. All these things aspects of my mother's personality.

Thanks, as ever, am. May the continuity remain absolute and unbroken.

Arija said...

What a lovely woman your mother was, in more ways than one.

Friko said...

How wonderful to have so much of your mum which is truly her.
She must have been a lovely lady. There is definitely a slightly mischievous look in her eye. How fortunate you were to be born her son.

Amanda said...

how lovely (and reassuring) to find this in your mother's possessions (is a commonplace book a diary? i've never heard that word)

this saying has an air of buddhism about it, hinting at reincarnation, perhaps?

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks so much, Arija and Friko. I think she was - is - lovely, and I do consider myself blessed she was - is - my mother.

Amanda - a commonmplace book is really a kind of cross between a diary and a scrapbook, a miscellaneous collection of self-penned pieces and other found scraps of the wit and wisdom and others.

I think you're quite right in recognising this piece (though written by a canon and Christian intellectual)is uncanonical enough to accommodate Buddhism, reincarnation etc.