He was a long-standing feature of our lives here, and his passing changes things, but not utterly; I can't say that either of us was close to him in any very deep or intimate way, he was simply a friendly, familiar and constant figure. In many ways his death it was all that it should be, at a good age with some time to prepare but without too much lingering.
Yet we are left troubled and miserable and out of sorts by it, in ways and for causes which are difficult to express here.
We came back from the funeral ready to start designing our own funeral services that very evening. We drank quite a lot of wine instead.
This week I met the woman who is taking over from me in the teaching job that I have been doing for the last seven years. It wasn't an enormous number of hours, but regular, we didn't need the money but it was useful, and it took me out into the world a bit and made me speak more demanding French than usual and discuss and think about language and get up and project my voice and my personality and generally perform. All of which was good for me. But earlier this year, for a number of reasons, I decided I had reached the end of the road with it, and it was time to hand it over to someone else.
My replacement is busy, businesslike, smart and competent and very easy to get on with. We had a pleasant lunch together and a couple of hours flew by almost unnoticed. I'm sure she'll do just fine. I offloaded the heavy packs of books and tapes and cds and papers accrued over the years with the job, which I'd carried there in a straw shopping basket, and we went our separate ways, and I relished the lightness of the nearly empty basket on my shoulders. I bought myself a rhubarb sorbet in a cone (delicious) from one of the many chocolatiers which seem to be springing up in the French retail landscape - this one did ice cream too for the summer - and sat in a spongy bright green chair in the new shopping centre in St Brieuc, and felt genuinely quite celebratory.
This week, almost the same hour that our friend died, other much cherished, friends had their first, long-awaited grandchild. The birth was difficult and the baby struggled, was put on a drip, lost weight, and suddenly the fate of an unknown infant in a far away city mattered more than I expected it to, because of the sorrows in the changing face of our friend when he told us of it, aside at the old man's funeral.
But the child has picked up now, is feeding, will be well.
This week I got to help choose the paper to go with my photo on this book of poems from Finishing Line Press . How fantastically cool is that?
This week turned into September. Autumn.
Lay your shadows on the sundials,
and in the meadows let the winds go free
Death and birth, my occupation gone, a new decade ahead Odd clenching sensations somewhere round the solar plexus - fear, excitement, longing, despair? My equanimity, serenity, contentment, my hard-won detachment and distancing from too much intensity, from overwrought and messy feelings, seem imperilled by an unaccustomed rawness, and I'm not sure if I welcome this or not.