I read Derek Walcott’s “Love After Love” for the first time a few weeks ago. Yesterday, I heard that he’d died. I could not believe it. How could the creator – of those moments in my life where I was wildly happy or able to see with unparalleled clarity – be gone?
But then, I suppose he’s not really gone. Not so long as we feel his words and his spirit through them. I have been told that when we say goodbye, at least we have memories of people; the moments we shared with them. But as you well know, memories are like air – there, but not always easily felt unless there is a storm. And the right amount of time and distance can and will cause them to fade.
So why is it that all of me has been unable to let go of all of you, to let you fade? I believe there are two reasons. The first is that I do not merely remember frozen images of you. I remember your words and these words work in the same way that Walcott’s poetry and prose and drama do. They evoke feelings and they preserve all of you, your very spirit. Your words keep you alive in me.
The second reason is embedded in the primary poetic message. It speaks to our truest love being our own self. I have learned to love myself, to be happy with me and at peace. And you, you are me, a big part of who I am. So in loving myself, I have no choice but to love you too. There is no separating the two. There is no whole and pure love for me without loving you.
You and I, we are each other. And so long as my words remain with you, I will always be with you, all of me, forever. Because love after love, I stood before the mirror and I saw you; the rest of me, the part that made me whole.
PS – Happy birthday, my darling.