0046 | the most beautiful thing

The most beautiful thing is to watch your children fall asleep. Early on, the relief that they are finally at rest too often outweighs an appreciation of the grace of their descent towards it. Later, there comes an awareness – and it is a hammer-blow of knowledge – that they will wake one day more old. There is nothing that can be lived again, nothing which can be clawed back.

Tonight, they whisper their last words, which are precise echoes of the ones I have spoken to them; smiles, which mirror the ones they receive from me. I crane to place a kiss on Tilly’s head. I stoop to find Bessie’s bunk and I roll in beside her, and I wrap an arm around her and she puts her arm over and around mine. I can see only the side of her forehead and cheek, the faintest outline of her nose, and the shuttering fold of skin which is open and fixed in one position and which then closes. And it is that fold of skin which transfixes. It is there where our energy and our love and our thoughts meet. It opens and it closes. That lid which covers and reveals is all there is: this quiet relies on it, this half-dark sits still around it. Her breathing slows. Heaviness sets in. Lassitude cannot fend off its weight. For now, there is no tomorrow and there is no need to mourn what will be yesterday. It opens and it closes. It opens and it closes. Only this.

It closes.

Reader Comments

  1. Oh, yes.

    There is a lovely scene in “The World According to Garp” in which Garp meditates upon his sleeping children. Don’t read it for a couple of years, okay? x

  2. Mary-Colleen:
    I’ve never read the book, but vaguely remember something from the film, although must have watched that twenty years ago. I’ll leave it alone for now, as you say.

    Zahir:
    Thanks for your comments and continued reading on here: it means a lot.

  3. A lovely read Matt, sorry I’ve only just got round to reading. Never ceases to amaze me how special you make these things that most would miss, and break them down to such simple but stunning beauty. I won’t leave it so long next time x P Tilly and Bessie will always look at these when their older with such fondness, I hope you realise how special they are to us all

  4. “…that they will wake one day more old.” Yes – to that, and to so many other little thoughts in this post.
    Time will not stay still, no; but you freeze it so beautifully here, Matt. Fragments of future comfort for Bessie and Tilly.

  5. Pete:
    Thanks, can’t yet imagine the girls sitting down with these in years to come, but I’d love for them to recognize something of their father in them.

    Pia:
    Thank you, Pia. Forever freezing, as do you, too.

  6. At last I catch up. I reached #39 and released I had been reading too fast. Needed to save #40-#46 until I could take more time to savour them, which I have done tonight. I still feel I read them too fast, and plan to return to the beginning and start over.

    Matt, aside from the words I spout on the various forums I use, I have never been much of a ‘writer’. I was proud of one or two things I wrote on a now-defunct pseudonymous blog I kept for about nine months (which is a possible clue to its subject matter). My current blog, once a place for thoughts and analysis, has developed into a simple diary and occasional record of photographic experiments. I’d love to think that reading your fragments could inspire me to return to something more creative, more considered. I have my doubts, but it has me thinking.

    Maybe my next blog post will be less mundane than those of recent years. Maybe.

  7. Trevor:
    A long-belated reply, following a long-belated absence from writing. We did, of course, meet again not long after your comment, but thank you once more for reading and such a thoughtful comment; it’s much appreciated.

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