And in my illness,
the love and affection of friends, letters, messages, words of comfort
for when I am cast adrift, she said.
For Rosemary, which happened to be the same name as my mother and who also fiercely believed in writing, extinction was unimaginable, and there was no such thing as a final illness, so that when it came for her time she determined to be alone, taking herself off to a private hospital in Glasgow with only her notebooks and pens for company, no family, no friends, and after the operation so camatose from opiate pain-killers that no sort of conversation or any other kind of communication were possible.
Although it was difficult to accept for a long time, especially for those of us who also find extinction unimaginable, which, when one comes to think about it might be a very large number, and on Woman’s Hour today (BBC Radio 4) there was Susan Sontag’s son saying the same thing about his brilliant mother and writer of Illness as Metaphor and Aging as Metaphor, in denial as we say, but in the end for Rosemary and for Susan, both choosing to go it alone, adrift, there is now only love and affection.