Wednesday, 16 May 2007


Since first hearing of Ben’s survival amid the loss of his friends, I have been so aware of the seemingly unapproachable and virtually untouchable nature of the place within which he now finds himself.
And through his living and homecoming, I have been drawn towards a desperate inability to know where to look, where to think, where to be; towards an urgent search for an exit: for a door that would let me out of reality, and into a place where I would not have to even think about such things.
I have been drawn towards, but safeguarded from being drawn into.

Whatever a person’s age, a daughter is a daughter: a son is a son: a child is a child is a child.
Parenthood is the most awesome responsibility, challenge, devotion, comfort, and both giver and receiver of joy, that this life can give. And because it is all these things, it is also the potential recipient of the greatest sorrows this world has to offer.

The world surrounds us with such sorrows every day, but we are for the most part free to live our lives without really noticing them. When we do notice, we can - for most of the time – continue to separate ourselves from their reality; we do not know what to do or to say, so we hide from ourselves by keeping back from where the pain is being truly felt.
I am on the outer fringes of the tragedy referred to in yesterday’s post, and am therefore able – if I so choose - to keep well out of reach of the pain involved, but I am held where I am as a consequence of my being filled to overflowing.
I know I must stand here at the edge, and not fade quietly back into the shadows.
I hope that in doing so, and in spite of my attempts to carefully walk barefoot round the perimeter of other peoples’ grief, I neither step too loudly nor venture too close.

Six men have died, and together with my stated feelings on hearing of Ben’s survival, I have had six words constantly returning to my mind: - “He that shall live this day …”
They are words penned by William Shakespeare (Henry V. Act 4, Scene 3) as being spoken before the battle of Agincourt in 1415.
That is of no relevance here, and nor is the fact that the battle was fought on St Crispian’s day, but the legacy conveyed by the words echoes within me nonetheless, almost as a prophecy of remembrances to come.

“He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words
… Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.”

Those names, ‘familiar in his mouth as household words’, are already written far more than continued life would have demanded, and in the costliest of inks.

The loneliness, and the vast aloneness of these days, which will have no chance of preparation for lifting until all funeral services are done, cannot be approached by anyone who has not been there themselves: by the likes of me.
Distress entwined in the joy of living, and relief and happiness overlaying the sorrow and disbelief of lifelong separation through death, will have conjured a kaleidoscope of confusion in the very thought of he that outlived that day.

Peace be with you Ben; dear, dear son.
Peace be with you Parents; dear Mother, dear Father.

When time has past, and not before: when ready, and when sure; when questions such as “Why me?” have settled in their rightful place, may he and his parents be able to ask their questions from the only standpoint that can bring the answers.

“When the shadows fall upon hill and glen, and the bird-music is mute: when the silken dark is a friend, and the river sings to the star, ask thyself brother, ask thyself sister, the question thou alone hast power to answer.”
‘O King and Saviour of men, what is Thy gift to me? And do I use it to Thy pleasing?’
( Hebridean Altars. Alistair Mclean. )

Amid the more immediately seen needs for support and prayer associated with the parents and families of those who have died, let us not forget the immense difficulties and challenges inherent in the living of a sole survivor and his parents.
They have their homecoming, but the simplicity of homecoming will never be the same.

Ben Pert

May he live in peace.

About Me

Who I am should be, and should remain, of little consequence to you. Who you are is what matters; who you are meant to be is what should matter most to you. In coming closer to my own true self, I have gradually been filled with the near inexpressible: I have simply become "brim full", and my words to you are drawn from those uttered within myself, as part of an undeniable overflowing that brings a smile to my every dusk, and to my every new dawn.
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