Letter to the World about Everything Unsaid

March 2020.

Dear World,

It’s difficult isn’t it when you think you might die, that we all might die, what to put on the page. It suddenly seems way more important than it might otherwise. Are these my last words? Are these what I leave behind? I’ve left others obviously (four books worth and countless articles) but are they enough? If this is the ‘end of days’ then you don’t want to leave anything unsaid.

Like ‘sorry’ for not forgiving someone who I thought should have come to my dad’s funeral and  didn’t. But you know. Bygones. Seems less important right now as you watch the limos lining up in the Italian cemeteries and think about the mourners who stand at a distance or who can’t be there at all. I was there as my dad slipped away, I was there at his funeral, I had that privilege and it was a privilege it turns out. That has to be what matters.

What else haven’t I said? ‘I love you’. Which is what I really wanted to write at the end of a message to a friend this morning. But didn’t. Why not? Because I do love them. They are members of my family of choice, my ‘logical’ family as Armistead Maupin would have it, as opposed to ‘biological’, you understand. Maybe because I’m British and emotion brings us out in wierd, jerky, limb-flailing fit. I’ll say it next time, I think. And I will try, and doubtless I will  fail.

And also left unsaid: “Dear God, how did we end up here?”

But here we are.  All of us wondering what next.

Technically, I should be all right. I’m not elderly. Generally speaking, I wouldn’t be considered to have an ‘underlying medical condition’ except as it happens my lungs are wrecked by some bug I picked up more than three months ago and they haven’t recovered, and the three of us know it. If my lungs could pack up their bags and catch a ferry to the Outer Hebrides they’d be on it. But they can’t. They are stuck here with me. We’re in this together, I tell them. We’ll be fine. I’m not sure they believe me.

Then there’s my husband who has asthma and even in the general way of things is Howard Hughes-esque about germs, so he’s taken to singing round the house in case he dies any second.  An eccentricity so irritating I may have to kill him before Covid-19 does.

So that’s me, if we haven’t met before. With a singing husband and three teenage kids and a 91 year old deaf and blind mother. And a poodle I just castrated, which now I feel bad about because did it matter? Couldn’t I have left him and his testicles in peace? I’d like to apologise to the poodle’s testicles. Because he seems to sleep way more. And asleep is  not the way you want to be as the world slides into the unknown. We need to stay awake and in full possession of our testicles.

keep well,