Dirk emailed me two photographs this afternoon, saying that “Tessa had been inspired by Nan Shepherd’s book “The Living Mountain” to try and capture the clarity and sweetness of the water in streams on Skye. These were her last two photographs (in Coirie Lagan, Cuillins) – taken perhaps three hours before she died.”
I read his email on my phone as I was strolling in the park this afternoon, Tristan racing ahead on his bicycle and Rhys merrily and messily eating a juicy plum in his push-chair. I smiled, and felt comforted.
As I stare at it again now I just can’t stop thinking, ‘What a beautiful place’. I feel that I should be thinking, ‘What a beautiful place to die’, but tonight somehow I can’t quite get there. I have been so calm and serene about her death; I have been ‘counting my blessings’ about the manner in which she died, of which there are many. I could list them now, and I begin to in my head, but tonight for the first time they feel empty.
Gone is reason, gone is peace,
Replaced by anger, and sorrow’s beat.
Empty, yet full of anger.
Why should she never be able to taste and feel water again? Why should her feet never carry her up another mountain? Why should this have had to be her last? Why did her appreciation of this magnificent place have to cost her her life? I ask why without hope of answer, as I know there is no reason. There is only hard, cold, unrelenting fact.
I have been floating along lightly, these past few weeks. Times of tears and gentle sadness, but confusion and wonder at the loss of my pure grief. At my worst, last week, feeling life’s responsibilities weighing me down – stressed, and sad, and mildly depressed, but no more than that, and even that for only a couple of days. Concerned that it seemed too distant, and unreal. Wondering when powerful grief would come again. And now, my body screaming against belief, my lungs crying out for it not to be true, I fight and fight and fight as anger tears through me. Blindly undirected, this foreign emotion that I have searched for and failed to find so often. Anger I was never able to tap into through so many of life’s bitter lessons and harsh upheavals. Anger at life, at its unpredictability, at everything that is beyond my knowledge and control.
Half an hour ago I was looking up The Living Mountain, and found this quote from it: “So there I lie on the plateau, under me the central core of fire from which was thrust this grumbling grinding mass of plutonic rock, over me blue air, and between the fire of the rock and the fire of the sun, scree, soil and water, moss, grass, flower and tree, insect, bird and beast, wind, rain and snow – the total mountain.” At the time I thought it magical, and appropriate, and understood how my mother would have delighted in reading those words, and exploring that place. Now it makes me resentful, but I thought I would share it nonetheless, and know logically that my appreciation for it will return, with time.