“The bustle in a house the morning after death is solemnest of industries enacted upon earth…”
That’s Emily Dickinson, just after the death of her mother. You feel the truth of her words when a loved one dies. The hush does lift and the busy-ness begins.
Of course at the time when Emily Dickinson was writing, in the mid 1800s, most everyone died at home.
I was lucky because my one parent died at home too. In my home, right in this chair. That’s her cane resting where she left it. Really I just bring it out on the anniversary. Other times it stays in the umbrella stand in the front hall – unless little children are playing with it.
How comforting it has been over the years for me sit on the sofa opposite and look at this chair! I feel as if she only just rose from it to get something and will soon be back. (And ah that’s the perspective all right, I realize writing it: the belief that have only just stepped away and we’ll soon enough see them again!) It reminds me of something else Emily wrote: “Dying is a wild night and a new road,” she said – “and we the Left Behind know not one thing about it” she might as well have added.
And that calls to mind a frequent remark by the oldest family member I ever knew, Great Aunt Mame born in the 1860s: “Not even a postcard!” she would hiss disgustedly and for comic effect, she who lived into her tenth decade, stripped of every last contemporary, sibling, and mill-girl chum from the 1880s. Not even a postcard: I love that.
And speaking of postcards, here’s one I came upon while looking for information about the school I attended as a young child.