Today, entering the house from the garden,
I turned, involuntarily, to look back,
but saw nothing more than what is always there,
small rooms of eclectic evergreens – olive,
camellia, rhododendron, bay –
and, for some reason, I thought of my father
dead for almost as long as I have lived.
I have shuffled what I know of him
like a pack of cards in a game of patience
for a lifetime – would he approve, be proud,
that twenty six year old secular Jew
from North West London, a personable
young man by all accounts, whose friends were artists?
As I grew old enough to be his father,
and then his grandfather, I began
to think of him less and less with longing,
but always as my loss, and my mother’s,
when she lived, and his family’s – and my loss
had as much to do with a heritage lost
in that pack of cards as with lost love.
Today, I thought, for the first time, of what
he had lost – of all those years never known,
of all the sweetness of being alive –
and hoped, as he lay dying from sepsis
four thousand miles from those he loved,
he became too delirious to see
what he would never know.
KaddishNorth West Londonsecular Jewsepsis