My friend has died. She was very courageous and had cancer. She was a photographer, a maker of exquisite works. She was Dutch and chose euthanasia when the pain she was suffering became, after months, too unbearable. Now her partner is left alone to garden.
She was wise and quiet in her mind, an insightful, shrewd, kind, passionate person. I just adored her. The world since I’ve known her has felt illuminated by her presence. The sense of her presence among us: you know, those so rare people.
Tonight we are making a chicken curry very slowly and brewing up a panful of chai masala and my kitchen, where my friend and her partner once sat with me, smells of spices. My throat aches for her. I am crossing to the machinery in the next room to play Gurrumul Yunupingu’s song Bapa four times over; finally my companion without a word gets up and sets it to continuous loop. Thinking of the songwriter, who also could have died this week. Thinking on his experience in the Royal Darwin Hospital and of my friend, can she really be gone utterly, and of how we treat each other, can she really just – be gone, thinking of the Aboriginal belief that our soul goes into the soil, into the stones and trees, into the earth where we got born. Sometimes a mother rubs her newborn child in the red dirt, or in the ashes from the fire, to teach its soul – I think – where to come home to. It seems to me a woman who lived all her life in the one civil, intelligently run, beautiful city might be a beneficiary of this cool, loving, compassionate, scientifically realistic and empathic prophecy.
The dead. Now we outnumber them for the first time it seems to me we must be particularly tender and respectful of the world they have left us, which their bodies have built, which their bones and blood constitute. I miss you, I miss you, I am crying out over the sink for you and you’re gone now and I miss you, I miss your company, your voice and your eyes, your dear creatureliness.