Someone has laid six roses on the windscreen of his van. They are not wrapped in cellophane, the stalks are uncut, bare. The van has been moved since the weekend. It is now outside his house, though the gates remain closed. White wrought iron gates, they are rarely shut. A busy family, so much coming and going.

We didn’t know him, not really. He knew his father. A rugby player and a transvestite, though that is by the by. A tall man, good-looking, with greying hair, though he was only 41. You only find out their ages when they die – a newspaper detail. He was out in Malaga at a funeral. Killed by a car. Apparently drink had been taken, he told me yesterday. I was quick to react, hating the idea of the creeping pf insidious gossip, small-town stuff. No, I didn’t mean that, he said. It just may be that he didn’t take care crossing an unfamiliar road. Yes, I see, I said.

We didn’t know him, and yet, I feel grief. He was an electrician. We’d see him in his van. He had two. Must have been a success. Nice house. Nice family. Nice wife. A local man. It will be in the paper tomorrow. Can you stop them printing it? I ask at breakfast. If it had happened to you I wouldn’t want it. No, not really, he says, it’s news. And it will remain so for a little while, till they bring home his body, have the funeral. Then what? A family shattered. How do you recover, repair? What can we do? Acquiesce? Rail against it, fate, God?

I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all the pain of it. There is much and yet, at least it is evidence of love. There was love. And it will return. It has to for it never goes, not really.

It stops us, death, stops us in our tracks. We are not above it. We are at its mercy, any time. So be it. Let it make us cherish those we have till we have them no more.

I listen at his door each morning. Still there. Still here. With me. Thank God.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.