Mixed Marriage

There are great concrete buttresses at my back holding up a lantern of light in the church behind me. I’m sitting on concrete steps, staring at one resilient weed working its way through a crack. Little survivor. I come here for the huge sky: tall river-meets-sea light, gulls wheeling and screaming, silvering the air, and the smell of all those far-off places I’ve never been to, swept briskly up here by the winds off the huge river. Close your eyes, you could be anywhere. It’s magic.

And I could do with some magic.

Close your eyes, you could be anywhere. It’s magic.

Mixed marriages never work, they said, tutting, all those years ago. But we were sure it would. We had hope. So cock-sure. I never converted and he was not bothered  - but two religions, we discovered, do not jog along together. At the end when he was so ill, I found myself excluded from everything: his relatives blocked me out as if I didn’t exist and never had. They took over his care and cut me out. His illness was long and painful, enough sorrow and heartbreak without being cold-shouldered by his family. After his death I found myself facing a widow-hood strange, harsh, and lonely. None of them came to see me, none of them ever phoned to see how I was doing. I had felt so excluded by them; even at his funeral I was not permitted to read his favourite poem by the graveside at the interment. And that has made going on with life so tough. 

But I try not to be bitter. Time passes. You creep out of the cracks again, like that weed growing near my feet. You go on.

That’s why I come here. It’s a place where, when I close my eyes, I could be anywhere in the world. It’s a place where I can focus on remembering him. And it’s the one place where I am not likely to meet any of them. And that in itself is worth everything.

-Gill McEvoy

GriefJulia NusbaumComment