She gave me a doll. I remember that. Or perhaps it was her sister. One old lady looked much like another when I was three. The doll was made of plastic, soft yet inflexible, and had eyes that stayed open even when I wanted Dolly to sleep.
She died and I remember that as well. I heard whispers that she died on the toilet, in her night gown. Her sister found her. I didn't think someone could die there. My mother explained to me that she was very old and that she had just worn out. It seemed comforting to know that someone could simply wear out and die in the middle of her daily life. Someone old. Someone who could be expected to die.
For a long time, it seemed that only the old did die. Even holding my Aunt's hand, younger than I am now, and watching her gather us all to her one last time before letting go, seemed an aberration. Tragic.
Yet lately the tragic has become ordinary. Adrian, Ruby, Pippa. Part of oblivion, stars without light, only their names remaining. How can names alone sustain a wife, love a mother, raise a daughter ? Absence closes in and all I can think is: too many.