One thing I have learned in life is that death usually catches us on the wrong foot. It does not matter if it comes swiftly and unexpectedly or after a warning. We do not understand it and we never will. We try to talk our way around it, there are lots of well-worn platitudes that try to make those who have been left behind feel better. Usually they only succeed in making it worse.
Here in South Africa it is Fathers’ Day today. It is a cold and dreary day where we live. Usually I love winter, I love the rain, as I grew up in a dry part of the country and also because my husband works in agriculcure. But today the windows are crying tears for a man I have never seen, never met. I have not even seen him in a live act. But I have learned to love him.
How Bruce must feel, we cannot imagine. Blood brothers can’t be separated without blood and tears flowing, without an awful lot of pain.
Of course it makes me think of all the people I have said good-bye to in my own life. I know what it is to stand helplessly around a hospital bed. I have been through quite a lot of funerals. And I still find the concept of death extremely difficult to handle.
I have learned enough to understand that I will never learn to handle it perfectly. Death will always hurt. Parting with a love one always rips your guts out. Just yesterday our fallen (and loved) cricket captain Hansie Cronje’s mother said that the grief for a child is like an elephant stepping on your chest.
Rest in peace, Big Man! Sitting here in my pj’s with a lovely kitten – warm and alive and very much a symbol of growth and life and youthful joy – in my lap, I cannot even begin to think how Bruce and the Band must feel today. I can only hope that they can let the tears flow and the memories roll. Because I have learned one thing – it does not work to suppress your grief. I hate it when people tell one another to “be strong”. It is unnatural to be strong when you have just lost a part of your soul. It is natural to be devastated and raw and helpless with grief.
Bruce, today I cry with you. May your tears be healing and full of gratitude for the most wonderful friendship I have ever heard of. May the pain gradually subside. May the memories always stay very much alive. May your creativity help you to rise above this pain, so that healthy grief will never turn into unhealthy depression.
May something beautiful come out of your pen. May the music support and heal you as it has always done before.
For a wonderful tribute and photos go to http://www.backstreets.com/clarence/