March 17, 2019

How can presence be felt through absence?

Natalie Berry, 27

Human relationships are strengthened through physical presence, but life has a tendency to push us together and then pull us apart. When my Granddad became ill with vascular dementia, I could say that he ‘lost his mind’ or that he ‘wasn’t all there.’ He shifted between moments of lucidity and dream-like states, while I struggled to be present; both physically and emotionally. After his death, I found solace in holding on to the ‘quirky fragments’ of his person; words once spoken, a smile or a laugh. I realised that the physical void that death leaves behind can be filled with something emotionally tangible. Understanding life’s fragile and ephemeral nature, I learned, plays an important role in being able to embrace life fully in the present, while honouring those we’ve lost.