Headspace: A series in which teaching staff and students from the English Department write about a place or space they go to write, read, study or create. [Read all entries.] [Revisit the “Ongoing” series.] [Revisit the “Interrogative” series.]
I see the word ‘sympathy’ and I hear Lily Briscoe wailing ‘Mrs Ramsay! Mrs Ramsay!’ But the stage is empty. What is lost is lost. True enough. Death, the cessation of all the body’s vital functions. True enough.
Loss means she or he or it is not and will not be there anymore, in the places where I used to find them, gardening, smoking, cooking, or knitting. Though life could still be filled with traces of the lost, I no longer have the original, in perpetual regret. I know.
And I think of grandpa and uncle Yin, to whom I could have been better. I could have avoided a verbal war with grandpa, in which I was trying to twist his old mind and argue how grandma deserved more chances to speak for herself. I should not have informed uncle Yin of the scientific truth of what harm cigarettes can do to his vascular walls. I should not have blamed him for jumping the queue to buy me a cup of milk tea. It must be my silly principles which hid from me the memories of how much they loved me.
And I know I will also die some day and those who loved me would be shot down for a moment by the same feelings I have tonight. If only I were time, the frame of all happenings. Only time is eternal, or not?
I close the book and I close my eyes. Tears flit across my cheeks like meteors streaking the night sky. I hear them falling on the pillow, soaked into cotton, one by one. Why are you so sad and would the moonlight make them shine?
Teresa Shi Xiaobo is a graduate of the Department of English (Class of 2016).