In a few hours it will be exactly four years since my Mum died, and I’ve been thinking about the Christina Rossetti* poem I read at her funeral:
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann’d:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
A smile to remember
I imagine it’s quite a common choice for that sort of occasion and that a many people find the sentiment in the sestet (final six lines) very comforting; I know we did at the time. What struck me tonight is how as time passes, feelings subtly shift. I still miss my Mum and often think of her but I have reached a point where I can remember and smile – the alternative is forgetting, and that would be sad.
*Oddly enough, Rossetti’s other poem about remembering was a reading at our wedding.