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.
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.