Silence

Ellen Bell: Photography by Simon Cook 01736 360041

We stop. We stop what we are doing. Stop to think. To remember. There is a well of grief. A tremendous sensation of grief that isn’t mine yet it takes me over. The crying is forever. Forever. Lest we forget. Never forget.

They have moved her. Is it because she became too difficult? She sounded happy on the phone. The new home is by the park. In the Spring I will see all the colours, she tells me. Twice. She mixed me up with someone else. I didn’t know you were an artist, she said. When’s your operation? It doesn’t matter. She is discombobulated. Is he forgotten, her friend Laurence? She forgot Terje almost immediately. Out of sight out of mind. Are they just means to an end these men? Someone to talk to, to focus upon, to gain the attention of? Or is it just the brain growing old, tired of having to remember and reverting to a more childlike, omnipotent state of I. Me, myself, I. Perhaps she was always a little selfish. No, not selfish, self-centred. Loss had taught her to be so. I think.

The strategies I put in place at the drawing class worked. I think. I lowered my expectations and tried to just enjoy the process of making marks, of looking, of remembering. Drawing is just remembering, she said. Possibly. Or is it more than that? Listen to the sound of the charcoal on the page. Draw the sea. Yes. Simple. It was nice to not have to think. We were there early, the illustrator and me. I asked him about his work. A lived-in face and a disgruntled demeanour. Well, about the work. You wouldn’t believe what goes on, he said. No, probably not. He makes images for book covers. Not drawn any longer, photographed. I’m a weekend painter, he said. Sad. He draws well, with confidence. Back in the sixties we drew from plaster casts, he said. It shows, I thought.

A gust of wind caught up the leaves, animating them. Outside his bedroom window they are custard yellow. A beautiful dying, virulent and gorgeous.

Alice gave him up when he was just a year old. She is shy, awkward. There are no words for such grief. Such loss. Let there be silence. Let us stop for the silence. Lest we forget.