All that we miss

Charles Cowling

julian_barnes_2030375b

 

In his new book, Levels of Life, Julian Barnes writes of the grief he felt, and still feels, following the death of his wife, Pat Kavanagh. It centres on:

“the loss of shared vocabulary, of tropes, teases, short cuts, in-jokes, sillinesses, faux rebukes, amatory footnotes — all those obscure references rich in memory but valueless if explained to an outsider.”

It takes a great writer to articulate it so well. 

Barnes also describes the moment when it became “less likely” that he would kill himself because he realised that she was still alive in his memory. “I was her principal rememberer … I could not kill myself because then I would also be killing her. She would die a second time.”

 

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Ru Callender
7 years ago

James, that’s an outrageous statement. Charles is as jober as a sudge.

james showers
7 years ago

PS It’s the shadow on the honk that gives Julian the undeniable advantage of resembling our brilliant ed.
And, er, is he a drinker too?

james showers
7 years ago

Yikes, Julian Barnes’ words smite me with a jagged recognition of what I would give for just one more full hour with Pamela. Who is still very much alive.
I’m off home.

Richard
Richard
7 years ago

Charles, look in the mirror!

Richard
Richard
7 years ago

Lovely quote. From whom was Julian Barnes separated at birth? Anyone else spot a similarity? 🙂

andrew plume
andrew plume
7 years ago
Reply to  Richard

………….sure did Richard

I didn’t want to flag it first

regards

andrew

Kitty
Kitty
7 years ago
Reply to  andrew plume

Justwhat I was thinking. Had to do a double-take.

gloria mundi
7 years ago

To each his world is private
and in that world one excellent minute.

And in that world one tragic minute
These are private.

In any man who dies there dies with him
his first snow and kiss and fight
it goes with him.

(Yevgeny Yevtushenko)

So Mr Barnes carries forward the private minutes of their life together, and those who knew both of them still find her in him, every time they meet.