all around us

Today was Cemetry Sunday. The Blessing of the graves. Time for the annual clean up. Show up with fresh flowers, say many and various prayers and catch up with all rabbit’s friends and relations. Remember why we don’t normally park in the carpark for this event- 45 mins to leave.

The priest reminded us that God is everywhere; the dead are with God; therefore they’re all about us too. Our loved ones haven’t really gone away, they’re all around.

Well, sometimes I wonder about God, but I know my loved ones are around. They’re in my head and my heart, in my stories, my laughter and my tears.

As we looked at the spot where our parents and grandparents lie, Cousin wondered aloud about how things would change in the incoming year. Bad move, Cousin. I’d rather not think about imponderables. When I’ve something to worry about, then I’ll worry with the best of them, but I haven’t the energy to spend thought on vague nothings.


Then I came home to discover that the horror Helen was talking about affected a family I knew. Folk I haven’t seen in years, but always think of fondly. People I spent a long summer with in New Jersey. The people who helped me discover that whiskey isn’t good for me. The young woman who showed me that it was possible to be feminine without fear of losing brain cells. A young woman I was a little in awe of- she had a career and a relationship and poise and skills, while I was still a daft mess. The young man who refused to wear his glasses, and who made me laugh. The young man I knew to be a great teacher, an inspiration and a friend when I needed one.

Today, that couple buried their son. He was 18. Not that much younger than they were when we shared an apartment on the Jersey shore. His parents are fine people; I hope they relearn the ability to laugh and to love the world. I hope they find their son with them, wherever they are.

do you smell that?

WordPress sent their daily prompt. Pick a random word, they said. Do a Google image search. Pick the 11th image. Write about it.

I opened the little dictionary and stabbed at a word. Then, the images. There’s only one story that this image brings to mind. If you’ve known me in real life for a while, you already know what this story is going to be…

Are you creeped out yet? Does this picture give you the screaming heebeejeebies? Well, not yet.

I spent the summer of 1989 working as a chambermaid in Wildwood, New Jersey. A crowd of us rented an apartment and did all the jobs needed to sustain a seaside economy- we had life guards, cooks, shop assistants, maids. Most of us did more than one job. We worked hard. We partied hard. Some people even got a tan.

While E and I were lounging about working in the heat, it was also a warm summer in Belfast. Our flatmates were sweatier than normal. Bins needed emptied more frequently. Still, somehow, that odd smell wouldn’t go away. Indeed, it got worse. And worse. Eventually they were able to pinpoint the smell to the middle flat. A great unsettlement began to descend upon them (I was thousands of miles away, I’m allowed to embroider).

The police were called. It was not good. A flatmate allowed her nose to take her into the middle flat after the policeman. A decision she regretted.

In the blink of an eye we had the crime scene people, the biohazard people and a hearse at the door. The middle tenant had been decomposing in there for a few weeks.

The ground floor tenant suddenly realised, through his druggy haze, why maggots had been falling through the ceiling. While our flat mates started looking for somewhere else to live, he got out the shake and vac to put the freshness back in the building.


The middle flat was still sealed up when E and I returned, weeks later. The smell had mostly gone, but our flatmates were gasping to leave.

They couldn’t eat fried rice for years after.




larva image from here