To Noreen

Now that you are dead, Noreen, perhaps it is time we had that chat.
I mean, the conversation that can only really happen after the person is gone, that disclosure that is always undisclosed.  I have been little more than a nobody to you, and you to me, for the past forty years or so.  Just a child growing up at the end of the road, you forever at No. 18, a handful of short exchanges since then over your garden wall or through the ironwork of your gate, beneath that wisteria. But we have nevertheless been present, been part of each other’s histories, dreams even.
I suppose we were always going to be just friendly strangers to each other, weren’t we, at different ends, me growing up from nothing as you moved on from middle years towards who knows what. But there is a place for those kinds of acquaintances that stop short of friendships.  Always eager, ready with the gift of a question for me when we would pass each other, as you unwillingly accumulated sticks and aches, slowing down, breathing harder, smiling harder, losing your memory completely at the end.
Yes, we never knew each other to be sure, but the infrequent exchanges we had over the years, puttied between segments of recorded life, in their moments told the story of whole lives and held an integral importance that neither of us would ever have admitted while you were here.
As I said, that chat, Noreen.
(To Noreen who died 3rd November 2013, aged 90)
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