Thursday, 12 April 2012

Have been reading C.S. Lewis' "A Grief Observed". It's his own grief he's observing, his nose rather pressed against the glass. His wife, the writer Joy Gresham, died of bone cancer after just four years of marriage. It's numbed and raw in turn, shot through with his trademark Christian apologetics. In fact he takes no comfort from his religious beliefs: "go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence.” Surprisingly, he didn't lose his faith, which because I suppose it is just faith, abides without proof. I found an ugly emotion in myself while reading the book: I was pleased that his religion couldn't help him, I wanted his bafflement, his loss. Because I have no faith, no metaphysical big brother kissing my grazed knees better and telling me I'm going to be alright. I've looked for it, I've tried to will it into being, I know the subject and I've put the hours in; I was an altar boy! But it's not there, I'm missing the god gene, the most selfish gene of all. The selfish genie.

His grief is not like my own. He is punch-drunk, concussed. He was dead himself within three years of Joy's death. I don't think I'm about to die, except by the slow, assisted suicide measured out in convenient pint sized units. Mine is an angry grief, it gives me energy. It stops me sleeping, it makes me work for the first time in my life. Yesterday it was nine months since my favourite person stopped being here. In the first few weeks after her death I wrote about 20,000 words about her, a stream of consciousness about how I felt, the pain, the bewilderment, the dislocation. I wanted to remember the pain. Well, I still feel that pain. There is nothing to remember. I stopped writing because the book was all about me. It should have been about Kelly. I'm still here, boring and annoying everyone, she's gone and I really, really miss her. The odd thing is that I now know people in Belfast who never met Kelly. It seems insane that there could be people in this city who never knew her. I think maybe now is the time to revisit what I've written, to see if it has any value, whether there's any of her in it.


  1. It's the Evangelists, not the Astrophysicists, who think they know EVERYTHING. The Universe (and that includes us) is estimated to be made up of almost 80% dark matter. A type of energy they call dark energy, for lack of a better name, also exists. I, for one, do not dismiss the possibility that the spirit of Kelly is still alive and eager to show you her favourite places.

  2. Nice to be included in the universe, Ita!

  3. "I'm missing the god gene, the most selfish gene of all. The selfish genie." <- Bingo! It's not with out you fool, it's with in you. Inquire within.