In 2011 Charlie Waller was diagnosed with an inoperable brain-stem tumour. He died early this morning. Abby, his mother, is a schoolfriend of my daughter Zoe and Zo's mother Gez and I remember her with affection from the times she shared our long summers in the South of France in the 1980s.
For those of us with young children now, the notion of losing a child is unendurable. To have to anticipate that loss during two years of a five-year lifespan and yet to meet it practically and creatively, as did Abby and John, require a courage, a resolve and a capacity for unconditional love and devotion that must humble us all.
I have no spiritual beliefs and can't promise them the consolation of divine support in their grief. But they know that they have not just the love and devotion of their family and their friends but also the compassion and empathy of all who can identify with their loss. And sometimes the kindness of strangers is an unexpectedly powerful source of comfort and sustenance. So please follow this link and if you feel that there is some response to what you find there that might make a little sense of this tragedy, contact Abby and John. http://artforcharlie.com/
BLUES FOR CHARLIE
For Charlie Waller 2008 - 2013
Your children are not your children but life's longing for itself.
(He) said unto the sea, peace, be still.
Something lifts us up. We rise
readily enough at the start.
Something carries us forward
in hope and expectation.
Is it life’s own longing for itself
that drives us? It must be for
I feel it in myself, lifting me still.
And this accommodates both
faith and godlessness, so primal
is the force. So when it fails
long before its fuel is spent,
what are we to make of this?
I’ve lit a candle for you, Charlie
and in the time it’s taken me to
think these thoughts and then to
write them down, it’s half-way gone.
I can light another and I shall.
But then I’ll walk away between
these pillars and these pews
and the tiny flame will never die.