The Church Of Me
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Kissing in the churchyard, I know a righteous woman

Monday, July 18, 2005
A WAVE THROUGH A DARK WINDOW

I have only just found out the news now, having been away from computers over the weekend and depending only on insufficiently/laxily-updated newspapers which yesterday still had her down as "missing."

It would not I think be helpful to romanticise things. I didn't know Elizabeth as well as I should have tried to do. We talked at FAPs, communicated via the message boards, as I did with hundreds of other people, and occasionally traded amusingly bitchy emails. We must have stood or sat next to each other, surely we must have done, unknowingly, a hundred times at the Westgate Library or in Blackwell's or in the Mitre.

She was insouciant about life, wise enough to know not to take it seriously. Her wit was a sharp one but it was never used to wound.

She had the capacity to see through people, not wanting to expose them but rather encouraging them, humorously but earnestly, to be content with their true selves.

One night we were at an FAP in a pub in Borough, both out of our respective cups, and I was engaged in the standard maundering widower's lament. She responded in a deadpan, Dudley Moore manner, but with complete empathy as well as sympathy. Arriving at work the next morning there was an email reassuring me that I had not made a fool of myself and that I was greatly loved by ILxors. That meant a lot to me.

The last time I saw her was in the Angel and Greyhound, St Clements, a venue from a previous life, last November. She and Rob were gleefully sifting through and playing with the antique pile of board games which the pub keeps in reserve.

An ideal couple in all the important ways. A second childhood.

I thought of Laura and Rachal, doing happy childish things at Millennium New Year as though they were forever eight years old.

It would be arrogant of me now to say to Rob that I understand how he feels, because I don't. Even as someone who also lost his life partner at far too ridiculously early an age, it is impossible for me to comprehend how or what he must be feeling at this moment, and doubtless for several thousand more moments to come. Laura's illness was quick, but at least we knew it was going to happen; there was time (though still not enough time) to prepare for farewells. I thought five-and-a-half weeks constituted much too insufficient a period of time. But it is eternity when compared to the seconds, or even second, it must have taken for Elizabeth's life to be terminated.

So it is a first. The first person I know who has been murdered. Strangely I feel no anger for the killers (or the passive vehicles of the killing) - merely sorrow and pity. One hopes, as with Northern Ireland, that it doesn't take another 30 years of bombings for key people to learn the obvious lesson.

All I know now is that the gloriously "twee" nature of Elizabeth and Rob was perhaps not built for the cold irrationalism of London. I know only of Sinister on a third-hand basis; but I am aware of the importance of a community, even virtual, and how it can facilitate bonding when bonds need to be reinforced or resuscitated.

And I am, predictably, also mourning for myself; the friendship I didn't allow myself to cultivate with Elizabeth and Rob because of my stupid, self-inflicted imprisonment, both spiritually and physically; the cakes I'll never taste; the deliriously dumb karaoke sessions in which I'll never participate; the club nights I kept convincing myself not to attend.

I think of this Saturday just past, which I spent in a sunny back garden in Walthamstow, in the home of a couple whom I love almost as surrogate parents. Peace and quiet. A blissful, hazy afternoon which Elizabeth did not manage to see. Or the cheery wave I got from an old acquaintance in a passing car while on my way to Sainsbury's yesterday lunchtime.

I also think of how and why bad things always seem to occur in the summer. And that I painfully desire a summer wherein nothing ever happens except for summer.

And now I think, I feel, I believe that things have to change before more bad things occur, and more potential friends are lost.

Four years and an involuntary, violent kick up the backside it has taken me to reach stage five of Kobler-Ross.

The grieving is done.

Love too late, but love nonetheless, to Elizabeth Daplyn and Nick Kilroy.
Love not too late, to all others.


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