Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Ramble - Fragile

Fragile... The word comes to us from Old French, thence from the Latin fragilis or frangere meaning to break. Tucked somewhere in there is the Indo-European bhreg and the Gothic brikan, both meaning to shatter. In modern parlance, the word means easily broken or damaged, delicate, brittle or frail, vulnerable or flimsy, lacking in body, strength or substance.

That which is fragile is often assumed to be anything but robust or bright, and certainly not vibrant by any means, but it is not necessarily so. Fragile, bright, robust and vibrant are not mutually exclusive, and they abide harmoniously together. Could anything be more fragile and at the same time, brighter, more vibrant and brimming over with robust life than we fragile humans and this island earth, this earthly journey we are all on together?

Early in November, a very dear friend dropped into a shop in the village one morning. He left the shop and drove away, stopping suddenly and pulling over to the curb. He put the car in park and then slumped forward against the steering wheel. When police arrived a few minutes later and broke into the vehicle, they discovered that my old friend had passed away from a massive heart attack.

It is an odd place to be in, and I am at sixes and sevens, leaning to port, out of kilter. I find myself waiting for Bernie to turn up at the door and ask if the coffee is "on". He liked his coffee strong enough to bend spoons - he drank it black, and he drank it without adding sugar. I listen for telephone calls and check for messages, read something and think that I must tell him about the book. Absent minded, I always seem to be losing things like bank cards, keys and reading glasses. I am easily distracted and wild places keep floating by behind my eyelids at night, Old Woman Bay on Lake Superior, Grise Fjord, Baffin Island, a certain frost touched grove in the Lanark Highlands on a foggy autumn morning - there is not an urban setting in the lot.

There is a large Bernie shaped hole in the fabric of the universe, and an aching hollow wind is blowing through it - at the bottom of the hole is a hard dark stone, and the name of that stone is grief. This is plain old grief and sadness, that is all.

My friend was a gentle and courageous soul with a huge heart and a generous spirit which burned as brightly as a beacon, fierce in his commitment to reciprocity, compassion and community. A few weeks ago his heart simply gave out, and we are all poorer for his passing. He is dancing in the light somewhere, and I hope that he too comes back to us very soon.

10 comments:

liliannattel said...

This is so sad and beautiful. I'm sorry that Bernie is gone. I feel that I know him a tiny bit from your post.

Beth said...

I am so dreadfully sorry for your loss, Cate. What a beautiful tribute your words are. May he return again in love.

- Beth

donna said...

so sorry. I am glad Bernie lives on in your heart, though.

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

"At the bottom of the hole is a hard dark stone"....you have described this grief in an inimitable way...thank you.

Delphyne said...

My condolences, Cate, on the loss of such a good friend. Beautifully written tribute to him.

Shell said...

I know how you feel, I lost a close friend of mine in January. I long to hear his voice and see him, too.

Tabor said...

May your friends of silver and gold provide threads to help patch this dark hole. My condolences to you.

Rowan said...

I'm so sorry that you have lost your friend Cate but, as you say, he is dancing in the light now and his passing was quick rather than a long drawn out illness. You have written a lovely tribute to him.

Barbara Anne said...

Cate, Where ever Bernie is dancing, he steps more lightly now as your loving words have given him wings.

Years ago when a dear friend in Chicago died suddenly, the whole of Chicago seemed emptier to me.

Hugs!

Prairie Star said...

I was sorry to read of the loss of your friend, Bernie. I was touched both by your post and the last line of the article you linked ... it sounds like he was a very special person and loved by many.

Sending love and big hugs, my friend.