Memoirs by the dying and their survivors keep on coming. Mine became this blog. Cory Taylor’s Dying: A Memoir is reviewed in this morning’s New York Times. What caught my attention is that Taylor quotes a line from Harold Pinter, which mirrors something that Laura said and which haunted me for years afterwards. In the months after her diagnosis, Laura would say to Anne Mei and me: “I will miss you.” During his terminal illness, Harold Pinter wrote this poem to his wife Antonia Fraser:
I shall miss you so much when I’m dead
The loveliest of smiles The softness of your body in our bed
My everlasting bride
Remember that when I am dead
You are forever alive in my heart and my head
Maybe this is a concept that the dying have to keep rediscovering anew. According to Lady Antonia, Pinter was quite pleased with himself for coming up with such an “original idea.”
I burst into tears and in some ways shall always remain upset by it, as well as deeply, unbearably moved. At the time, and ever after, I recognised it for what it was: a farewell.
Rather touchingly, Harold did not seem particularly upset by my reaction since he was busy being pleased with himself for the concept of the dead missing the living, rather than the other way around.
He kept exclaiming over it in a contented manner: ‘Isn’t it an original idea, the dead missing the live?’ ‘Yes, but . . .’