THE NOTE

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I never thought I’d be that much interested in cemeteries. No, I never thought that; though I’ve always loved the small Huguenot cemetery on Merrion Row, a page of history, wars and struggles framed in three walls and an iron gate. When Dad died, I kept away from the cemetery. I couldn’t see the point. Even with Mum, I couldn’t drag myself there. I stopped believing in God a while ago. No, I never thought I’d be that much interested in a cemetery, but that was some time ago, before it all happened.

Of course, she didn’t leave any note. It would’ve been so simple. We’d know. We’d have hints or reasons. Instead, we keep speculating, days after days. She was smart. She has us wondering again and again.

‘Did she leave any note?’

‘Mum, you’ve already asked that question.’

‘But did she?’

‘No! Nothing! No letter; no note; no will.’

Nothing but that idiot word ‘why’. I try to keep my voice low and soft. It’s hard. I’m so angry with Aoife. 

Silence falls between Mother and me. 

I know what she’s thinking: What did I do wrong? Did I not love her enough? All of us think the same things: What did we miss? What happened? I should have called her sometimes; How could I not have sensed it? Yes, how did I not sense it?

The day of her death, we were supposed to have coffee in the morning at her place. We were meant to meet the following Thursday for a show in town, and on Friday, she was to sing at the National Concert Hall. Our shared passion for music had kept us talking even after Father’s death. She was his favourite. He never missed any of her shows, never, and she worked hard to make him proud and happy, harder than she enjoyed. 

She used to scare me sometimes, saying, ‘Nothing matters, nothing but the love of Dad.’ 

His death had been tough on her, and the newspapers didn’t help with their gossip; but it was tough on all of us, on the brothers, Patrick, Jamie and Noel, and on Mum.

She left no note. She even played with us. She could’ve swallowed some sleeping pills and dreamed for an endless night, like Dad did, and we would’ve transferred her from bed to coffin, sleeping and relaxed, smiling maybe. No. She had to hang herself with the numerous scarves we’d offered her—and we gave her so many—but she was always complaining about having a cold throat, that this endangered her singing.

I brought her scarves from every place I visited, in every material I could think of and every colour I could see. I once bought a purple one from Rome in Italy, a nice silky one, but she never wore it. She didn’t even use it to make the rope. This one scarf rested on the table, disregarded, when all the others wrapped her neck, her shoulders, her arms. Around her neck, the scarves stretched under her weight, but they didn’t break. They were of good quality. It must’ve taken her quite some time to prepare that set up. She always had a sense for drama. 

She hung herself using my favourite place in her flat, the balcony of the mezzanine. Was she trying to say something? Did she not use the purple scarf to tell me that I put her onto the path of death? Did she do that to let me know it wasn’t my fault? Did she choose my favourite place to show me I helped her in dying? We found her only yesterday. Yet I’ve been dying for peace from these questions and that sense of guilt I can’t revoke. Why? What was she trying to say? Nothing, of course; it had been everybody’s favourite place. You could see across the living room and through the main window, stretching your gaze over mountains and sea. It was also the only place she could tie the scarves-rope. Still, I’d always sat there when she rehearsed. I loved her singing. She’d never been happy with her performance, always looking for something wrong. Only Dad seemed to find the right words to bring out the good.

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