Monday, March 23, 2020

Call The Midwife

I was wondering what to post in Bytes last night, levity seeming to be out of place as we here in New South Wales move to State government ordered to level one shut downs of venues in which gatherings take place and the closure of non-essential services amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic. 

Whilst so pondering, Kate and I were watching the last episode of season 7 of Call The Midwife on Stan. CTM is one of our favourite series, a quality Brit production that deals with the role of a team of midwives during the late 1950s and early1960s. Operating in the East End out of Nonnatus House, the locale of a religious order where the nuns are also midwives, the series incorporates historical events in the storylines. 

A couple of moments and spoken words in this last episode were particularly meaningful and poignant, including the poem below spoken at the eulogy for one of the regular characters who had passed away. 

Here are the words I mentioned . . . 

“Turn Again To Life” is a poem by Mary Lee Hall (1843-1927), the first female lawyer in Connecticut, and a suffragette. Her poem was read at the funeral of Lay Diana, Princess of Wales, by her sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale. 

Turn Again to Life 

If I should die, and leave you here awhile 
Be not like others sore undone, who keep 
Long vigils by the silent dust and weep. 
For my sake, turn again to life, and smile, 
Nerving thy heart and trembling hand to do 
Something to comfort weaker hearts than thine. 
Complete these dear unfinished tasks of mine, 
And I, perchance, may therein comfort you! 

These words whilst they were watching on TV the unfolding story of the assassination of President Kennedy, shortly after the above funeral: 

TV reporter: 

Mrs Kennedy has now arrived back in Washington, appearing on the aeroplane steps in the pink suit she was wearing when the president was shot. She is... 

Sister Monica Joan, who is quite aged, switches off the TV:

She says: 

We have mourned enough in recent weeks. We have shed tears for one we loved and lived in the hollow she left behind. We cannot surrender to more tears because of this. 

One of the other midwives; 

He was the President of the United States of America. 

Sister Monica Joan: 

We are leaping into grief as if we had embraced it as a form of recreation. 
We are not what we have lost. 
We are not what has been taken from us. 
You are all too willing to embrace the void. 
If you do not cherish what remains, you will all become as nothing. 
You will be nothing. 
We are not broken. 
We are each as whole as we will ever be again. 
And in the end, when we cease to be, we will all become memories. 

Narrator at end: 

We flicker on a screen. 
We fold and unfold upon the mind's eye, brittle as wings, eternal as a heartbeat. 
And even when the heart falls silent, we do not cease to be because, in the end, we all become memories.

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