Flying Lessons


flying lessonsWhen Arthur Cave (son of Nick Cave and Susie Bickfell from a cliff in East Sussex and died, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t stop feeling about it. Clearly this was none of my business. It felt ghoulish to read about it or look at pictures of their family. For days, it was a cloud over me, the thought of him lying there, waiting to be found, the thought of what his parents were going to go through.

Being intimate with the shattering grief of losing a child, you shudder at the thought of others having to face it.

More than a week later, at the gym, with trance music pouring through my headphones, the part of my mind that had been preoccupied with Arthur Cave shoved its way to the front, demanding to be examined. I was tired of avoiding this dangerous train of thought, but still needed to keep it from opening up my own well of grief right there in a noisy gym.

And with no explanation beyond the need to maintain some kind of calm, I began to visualize Ashlie there with Arthur, arriving just after he fell, holding out a hand and helping his spirit to its feet. I imagined her working to distract him from the broken body on the ground, refusing to let him stop and think long enough to be afraid.

On the elliptical, with my eyes closed, I worked to see Ashlie and Arthur running back up to the cliffs hand in hand and jumping off, but this time flying. Laughing. Fearless. And it begins to block out the horror of his death. It begins to lift the cloud.

I cannot change what happened to my child or theirs, but I can change how the bereavement of others affects me – able now to imagine (when I need to, because public grief is forbidden) my own dead child leading a merry band of spirit children on grand adventures around the world.

Take care of Arthur, I tell her, and I can breathe again.

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7 Responses to Flying Lessons

  1. Debbie says:


    Even at my most agnostic, I believe in some kind of universal mind. It feels odd to call it “god.” That word has so much baggage. But, there is “something there that doesn’t love a wall.” (I am using Robert Frost out of context here.)

    There is no wrong way to grieve, and how we do it can change from day to day. I think it’s good when we can still feel a presence in our lives and allow it to bring us peace.

    You are living your own life and keeping her alive both in your memory and by fighting for those who suffer with the same issues. And, you are writing your ass off again. I feel lucky to know you.

  2. Laurustina says:

    Thanks Debbie 🙂 For the encouragement and thoughtful words. Also, I think you used Robert Frost IN context and your point was good.

  3. Bob says:

    Beautiful. But of course it would be.

    “Public grief is forbidden”. Amen. I have learned to hide it so well that my private grief ravages me mercilessly when it is unleashed, the eagle to my Prometheus.

  4. Laurustina says:

    Yeah. We’re going to get back to that. We have to.

  5. Erin says:

    I can see what you are saying – grief is universally frowned upon and despite the best intentions some people feel that it ends in 3 days or in a month or in some window of time but in reality death kindles the fire of memories lost and it remains alive (ironic). I know that when I see my father and I dream of him I feel that I barely knew him but I also see that i only knew him with my memories and I can see him moving through life and guiding me with simple nudges here and there to keep it positive.

  6. Laurustina says:

    Thank you for sharing, Erin. I like the thought of those simple nudges.

  7. That was a really great way to turn your mind to something positive and uplifting. Such a great thought, that your family can take care of theirs even after death. I love it.

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