It has been a year today (July 25th 2014) since Sarah Lundberg ended her own life. Distressingly there has still not been an inquest, and so the full details of what happened on that day have not emerged. On a more positive note several memorial services are occurring today, some of whom I have been invited to. I decided not to attend, basically because I prefer to remember her in my own way, as I have by habit done with other friends and loved ones I have lost through the years. Friends have warned me repeatedly about the necessity of taking it easy, especially today. To be frank, I am not worried. These last weeks have been particularly difficult, and I know I have not been myself (apologies to loved ones and friends for being so difficult and thanks for your patience). I expected it, accept it and know that like all things, it will pass. Patience and taking a broad perspective on things is one of the few things learned from living past one half of a century, at least for me.
When someone close to you completes suicide, there is a sense of feeling haunted, a sense that the tremendous potential of that person’s life has not been achieved, and as such their presence lingers. I know I have felt it. It’s as though one will be forever left at that moment of loss, and to move past it seems impossible. You do move past it. You really do learn how to move on and you learn how to forgive the past. But you also get flashbacks, images, at the most unexpected moments, a sense of overwhelming sadness suffusing the happiest of times, and a level of anger and resentment at what happened that surprised me.
And then there are questions. The inevitable unanswerable questions as to why, what motivated such a terrible act of self-destruction is also something that haunts one. And despite all the talking and speculation and reading aside, it’s simply the wrong question. Suicide of someone close to you is a situation where no actual answers will ever take away either the shock and pain of what happened that day 365 days ago. The truth, and I knew Sarah better than anyone, is that she was one of the most malice free people I ever knew. You knew where you stood with her, than though she had many faults as we all do, she knew how to never hold a grudge. If she were here now she would want me to move on. And this is what I do every day, and though its immensely difficult, I can feel my old self returning.
I am not a religious person. I was once upon a time. But that was a long, long time ago now. If I were religious, I would probably agree with a friend who commented that he now knows Sarah is in a better place. She struggled against nearly impossible odds. She achieved so much and yet I often think had she lived there was so much more for her to do. I often imagine what she would have done had she lived, the new writers she would have published, the new books she would have written, the dozen or so Bob Dylan concerts she would have gone to, the animals she would have rescued, the countless kindnesses she would have given to so any people. She had a huge heart.
The second picture I have chosen for this blog post is probably an odd one for such a sad occasion. I saw it as I was packing stuff away and immediately remembered the exact location, one of those moments of sensory immersion, almost Proustian in its intensity. For some reason I don’t really care about right now, I thought a picture of us doing something as pedestrian as shopping seemed right, as so much of our life together wasn’t taken up with big books and literary readings, but was taken up with doing little things. I remember this day back in the nineties. This photo was snapped by a friend as we came out of Tesco’s. I remember I was worried about our dogs being left alone at home and if I had left my office door open and if my pages and stuff were okay. I needn’t have worried. For once our pets were well-behaved. Everything was fine.