Ad Memorium- A Prayer from an Atheist

It was perhaps a year ago now, that I walked into a space for the first time. A vast, secluded, quietly beautiful place. Humble, even with its lush, seemingly endless shades of green. Equipped with quirky birds, and a pair of exuberant canines, who failed to view my small stature as sufficient reason to resist heaving their hefty frames mercilessly upon me. In the midst of this exquisite land rested a house. I entered the house, to meet the father of the man I had fallen for.

I knew that this house had a past. Its walls and rooms, now simple and refined, seeped memories from days gone by – ones that were long forgotten for a reason. I am a naturally intuitive, freakishly perceptive person. I felt the past as I walked through the space. And it did not surprise me. But something else did … the man who lived there. He appeared from a doorway, walked to me, welcomed me, and took my hand in his. I felt warmth radiate from him, the moment his hand touched mine.

I spent an hour in his kitchen, talking to him, learning about the art of pickling fruit and vegetables. I conversed with him, all the while studying and watching him intently. What I saw was a gentle man, methodically pickling a jar of chilies. He did it slowly, with soft purpose. I was fascinated just watching his hands – he had unblemished dark skin and long, beautiful fingers.

But I saw so much more than that, just watching him do that simple task. I saw a guarded man, who kept his cards close to his chest. Yet I felt an inexplicable aura of something I can only describe as a soft gentle warmth. I saw a sense of humour, cheekily peeking out. I saw intriguing eyes that held beauty. I saw in them sincerity. I saw pain in them. I saw regret. I saw a man that had made mistakes; but also a man that had acknowledged them. I saw humility in those sea green eyes. I saw a man who had known happiness, who had felt contentment.

That day I met a man with a good soul. And it did surprise me, that I saw so much beauty in him, despite what i knew of his past. But then again, as I think on it now, it made perfect sense; as he was, above all, responsible for creating one of the most beautiful souls I will ever encounter in this life – his son.  

The man I met that day in the kitchen died last week. He took his own life. No-one knows why. No-one understands what led him to that tragic decision. Everyone wracks their grieving minds in the wake of his unexpected death, trying to remember if they missed some sign – anything that may have hinted there was a problem. Even me. And I didn’t even know him that well. But I loved his son deeply. I loved his family. And even though our lives have taken separate directions, my heart breaks inconsolably for those left behind.

I know how he chose to die. I know that scene is seared in his son’s mind. I know his son saw him there, after he had taken his life, when the water had been tainted red. I know that vivid image will haunt him. And I feel helpless. There is only one thing I can think to offer. One tiny thing that I hope may help, even in the smallest measure.

That body of water that now haunts his son’s waking and sleeping hours … it was not always tainted. It was also a place that knew love. For we swam together there. We laughed in that pool. He tried to make me do the famous Dirty Dancing water lift. We held each-other in that water. It was pale blue then, and beautiful, and pure.

I pray, in this hideous time of grief, that whenever he is freshly stabbed by the image of the tainted pool, that he remembers a different day – one that came before death’s cruel arrival. Remember that one afternoon with me. Please … please, I ask the universe, with all my heart, to allow him to use that one image of love, to soften the pain, any time he needs it.

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2 thoughts on “Ad Memorium- A Prayer from an Atheist”

  1. Beautiful as for the rest…i am silent and unfortunately know just what this grief feels like. It may not be so easy to swim, the water incredibly thickened. You are right to say a prayer because it is most regrettable to say the days ahead are dark. (My experience, may it be different for your friend.)

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