Whistling in the valley of shadows

Another postcard from the land of grief

One of the awkward things about living in a strange land is that you are uncertain about the unwritten rules, especially for displaying emotion. In some countries it would be rude not to kiss, whilst in others it would be unacceptable to do so. In some, it would be unthinkable to walk alongside another without holding hands, whilst in another it would be frowned upon. In one to whistle or sing as you walked along would be charming, whilst in another it would be rude.

The land of grief is often a very quiet place. Once the front door is shut the on/off sound of the radio or television is the only sound apart from my own voice talking to the dog. She occasionally responds in kind  but only if bored or hungry! Sometimes the silence continues outside, as if the weight of grief imposes a cathedral like hush about you which should not be broken.

Yesterday, I broke the rules. The sun was rising through the rooofs of the town and turning the canal into liquid gold. The air was still and cold, broken only by the splash of a duck landing and the gentle patter of Ginny’s paws. Overwhelmed by it all…I began to whistle. You can probably imagine what irrational thing happened next – a rush of guilt, a look over the shoulders, and a quickened but silent pace.


Of course, if it were anybody else, I would gently reassure them that no rules were broken and that the beauty of the morning was only enhanced by an instinctive reaction of joy to what it had to offer. Not so easy to say to yourself, though. Maybe, like Ginny, I need to take a little time to sniff the air and give thanks that it is full of promise.