“Why did you leave me?” the Sixth Sense widow asked the space her husband had occupied with her.
Neither her husband nor mine chose to leave, but death leaves people behind–unmoored, unsettled, unwhole. Abandoned.
In Dublin, an abandoned home sits directly across the road from an empty bench overlooking the striated sea, just east of the spot where I scattered a seashell of Jim’s ashes into pastel sea foam barely distinguishable from pale cream sand and powdery sky.
Its oceanfront gate is secured by a sea salt-corroded chain and a hefty padlock that is conspicuously less worn. Where a window once allowed people to see in and out, Kelly green paint peels away from a wooden frame and a teal-painted brick barrier. An archway over the front door appears to be missing, its peak shorn off to reveal a peek of skeletonized facade. Both a nautilus-shaped latch and the iron fleurs de lis atop the gate–some of them tilted ever so slightly to starboard–are pocked with rough cinnamon patches of rust.
And yet this sight made me smile, helped me slow my breath, at dawn on a Dublin morning.
Despite all that was missing from the house, the entire expanse from it to the gate–and even beyond, where exuberantly flowering grasses and plants reached out between ornate bars and tickled bare shins–was a riot of color, of intense green, yellow, and magenta.
Early morning quiet was far from complete: birds bewinged with brilliant blue rhombus patterns hopped and sang in the lavish green space behind the bars. A sea breeze swept and rearranged long lemon-line grasses.
The disarray was brilliant.
Whatever caused this place to have been abandoned, it somehow seemed more alive for it. Unlike the pristine surrounding lawns and manicured flower bushes, and notwithstanding the dark emptiness inside, this was the place where the birds and I felt welcome to linger.