thefilthycomma #28 | | DJS

thefilthycomma #28

For all that has been, thank you. For all that is to come, Yes!

Garden Naturalist and I spent the afternoon of the day after New Year’s Day pruning our dead tree. The dead tree is about sixty feet from the house, and at first glance does not appear to be dead, because it acts like a frame from a monstrous rambling rose and a clematis montana. Both have grown to massive proportions (the rose has a stem thicker than my wrist) and when they bloom, the entire weird collaboration is a temple of pink and white flowers that can be seen from the other side of the valley. Nevertheless, the tree is most definitely dead, and has been for some time. We agreed that as much of it as possible needed to be chopped down before it either fell down or took over the garden completely (recall the rambling rose in Noggin the Nog, which I believe consumed an entire house). We cut off as many branches as we could reach, resulting in an enormous pile of wood; another enormous pile of spiky rose-twigs; and a third and most enormous pile of dead clematis. We both worked hard, bleeding in a dozen places from shallow cuts and nicks, at opposite ends of the garden: Garden Naturalist up a ladder with loppers, I by the house with a selection of saws, hacking the largest pieces into useful lengths to go on the fire.

The story I wish to tell here is twofold. Firstly, this is what we spent our afternoon doing. A few minutes after we came into the house, laden with logs and twigs and flushed with the cold, we had a telephone call that resulted in us spending the remains of the day in a car and then a hospital, and then, after witnessing a mercifully brief but very courageous struggle with death, a car and a strange bed. Secondly, three weeks earlier, we had finally made the decision to end our marriage. It is testament to how much we still care for each other that we were capable of handling the intervening weeks; Christmas Day; New Year's Day; and then, on the day I am talking about here, a large task of repetitive physical labour (married readers will know that, in the darker moments, a marriage can feel like little more than that); and then the tense, twilit drive; the hospital; and the aftermath of all that it brought, supporting each other the whole time. I had been thinking about endings and beginnings and decisions and difficult choices for a few days (as per my teenaged self with her ‘I might be forgiven for beginning with several observations regarding the past year' introspection). I made a new and shiny resolution (to be a more committed friend) and felt terribly brave and optimistic, as one does when everything one has changed is safely inside one's own head. The lesson for me here, which is what I want to share, is this: love can be changed, lost and then found again, and still be love. People can change, leave us and not return, and yet still be people that we love and miss. Of course neither the love nor the person is the same, but we should not need them to be. What I am talking about here, therefore, is not New Year’s Day, but the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that: the days on which one has to follow through. For all that has been, thank you. For all that is to come, yes. Yes. A thousand times, yes.


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