I’ve often imagined what it would be like to have one more day with Laura. One last chance to look into her eyes and be together as we once were. What would we do? How would we spend those precious hours together? Evidently it is a common fantasy of the bereaved. ‘Meet Me at Dawn‘ a new play by top Scots writer Zinnie Harris, was at the Edinburgh Festival this summer and I dragged my grumbling parents, sis and niece to see it at 10am one saturday morning. It imagines two women lovers after one of them is killed (in a boating accident). The remaining partner gets her wish to see her departed loved one again and to experience one more day together. They meet outside the bounds of our world in a sort of liminal place, a desert island of the mind. At first they bicker and blame. ‘Why did you leave me’ etc. But as time runs out, they turn to what matters most – being together in the humblest way. With scant words, they light a fire and huddle together against the encroaching dark and the inevitable return to loss.
If I had one more day with Laura, I wouldn’t waste it talking about what was in the past. I would want to know what it was like for her now in the afterlife. How she spends her time. And I guess also, what it felt like to die. Did I do a good job of being there for her at the end. Was she in pain. What happened in those strange final hours as I saw the white light surrounding her. But most of all I would just want to look into those russet-colored eyes, experience her million-watt smile, like a child’s drawing swooping from ear to ear. And I would wrap myself around her cello-shaped body and feel again the extraordinary energy that radiated between us and spoke wordlessly to my soul.
Loss and longing are hot topics in the arts. Last week, I saw Marjorie Prime, the movie version of the Pulitzer prize winning play (by Jordan Harrison) about an elderly woman who is comforted by a holographic simulation of her deceased husband. This ingenious computer-likeness sits on her couch, reminisces with her and watches over her (reminding her to take her medicines and encouraging her when she is down). The film has a tender, elegiac quality. It is a rumination on memory, loss and love. In the background there is the constant sound of waves rushing in and pulling away; like the slip-slide of the years. At first, watching the movie, I thought I probably wouldn’t want a hologram of Laura. You can’t cuddle a hologram. But then I remembered that after Laura died, it brought me great comfort to reminisce about our lives together. It warmed my heart like nothing else. And it also summoned her spiritual presence (as if she heard me talking about her). And now I guess, I have my own holograph of Laura, her spiritual entity which is still as playful mischievous and encouraging as ever.