L’ho provato sulla mia pella

“Everything is biographical, Lucian Freud says. What we make, why it is made, how we draw a dog, who it is we are drawn to, why we cannot forget. Everything is collage, even genetics. There is the hidden presence of others in us, even those we have known briefly. We contain them for the rest of our lives, at every border we cross.”― Michael Ondaatje

Perhaps it is just my age, but I am increasingly aware that no person comes into your life without a specific intention, no matter how brief the connection.  Sometimes this connection is nothing more than a brief view of a life, a moment that makes you consider that specific moment and know that it will stay with you forever.

Sitting in a restaurant in Newlands, Cape Town last night I was vaguely aware of a large table of mixed gender sitting behind me.  I placed them all within 25-30 years old. The banter was happy and at a glance my assumption was a birthday party, I clearly remember thinking that it is not easy to get to all your guests if you choose a birthday venue like this, where other than the people sitting right next to you and across from you, you simply can’t hear the rest unless you move about. My attention was then drawn back to my table.  Midway through our meal, there was a sudden scrape of chairs as the entire table rose as one,  holding little shooter glasses.  They had my attention.  A beautiful looking young man spoke, and all their eyes were turned towards him.  I noted then that the eyes were all glittering in the light, tears were hovering on the lashes of some. He spoke of a dear friend, a friend they loved, a friend they had lost, and a friend that they knew was with them in spirit last night.  It was a striking gesture, the restaurant quieted; we were all drawn in and touched, forever.

I was even more affected by this gesture last night because back in KZN a few hours earlier, my son and a huge band of friends had gathered at Hilton College to say farewell to one of his earliest childhood friends, snatched so young.  It is his first encounter with the loss of a friend and contemporary. There is no accounting for the pain that would have been palpable at that service. When there is a death and sadness, whether it is someone we know well, someone who has briefly crossed our paths, we know that pain, we are drawn in, it touches us, it could be us.

It is comforting to know that our lives will never go unnoticed.  Perhaps in this manic harsh world we forget that we are all truly magnificent.  We love and we care and we rally around unasked.  We were created and blessed with this extraordinary superior difference.

L’ho provato sulla mia pelle – I have experienced this pain on my own skin



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