Tag Archives: Autumn

Life and death in the cold air

Funerals are hard at the best of times – this one was particularly cruel. The church, an over large concrete structure, was chilled and morgue-like. The extras to the drama filed in, blank faced or grim, dragging their limbs to the pews. All around the hastily assembled 50 shades of mourning, style was the last of considerations as we were called to witness, called to supply mute and numb support.

The service seemed coldly ritualistic, with no trace of human empathy, the words empty of connection to the girl at the altar, devoid of emotion. The actors took their cues woodenly, their timing was off by a beat so the ceremony dragged. And yet, beneath this frozen surface glistened anger…diffused by its lack of single direction. It was not visible, and yet it was there.

The parents walked like ghosts to the coffin and laid a bible to rest. The gulf between them and the gathered congregation at that moment as absolute as a child watching footage of the moon landings, visible to the eye but incomprehensible to the viewer in its enormity. Their faces wore the lines of nightmares that had embossed their daylight hours.

We walked out into the Wintry sunshine, sharp eye-watering brightness, with the smell of incense in our nostrils and the sound of unanswered questions in our ears. A beautiful girl, gone. And we turned and walked away because we could.

Daylight and the Dead Centre of Paris

October can mean any type of weather – the veritable four seasons in a day. But sometimes, like today, you get that low golden, honeyed sunshine of late Autumn that plays hide and seek in the fluttering leaves.

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A few metro line changes and climbing into the fresh air, emerged from the dark heat to blue skies at Père Lachaise Cemetary. The most prestigious final resting address, last home to the great, the affluent and the famous, it is now tended by the Marie de Paris. Sandy paths and cobbled walkways weave along this huge park of the dead, and visitors and tourists alike lose hours in the maze of crypts, monuments and mausoleums.

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Finally we got to our goal, the grave of Oscar, recently cleaned and restored with a special protective Perspex surround. But what a shocking desecration…..

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I whispered my prayer of thanks…and left….no trace behind.

There is no time.

I have spent the majority of the last week in a state of Autumn Exhaustion… It is that peculiar first cold/bug/flu/chest infection of the season. Whether from a combination of change of temperatures, increased central heating, lack of open windows and fresh air or simply an attack of the vapors caused by sudden onslaught of dark days and bleak nights, the start of October almost always heralds the ague. Or as I like to think of it ‘the dreaded lurgy’.

This year feels worse (or perhaps it always feels the same, worse as other years) and I wonder if that is because we waited all summer for the symptoms of summer, only for Autumn to crash our hopes. Somehow it feels cruel to have labored for nine months of the year in fruitless gestation, no smiles or sunshine. Just emptiness and dread of what is to come.

The leaves are curling and dancing in a fiery ballet, that is the one bright focus, but when they leave, and the migration is complete….. Will we have the strength to carry the heavy dark days ahead?

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