Do not die, but if you must, do not die in autumn before the clocks change, when, despite the golds and reds, the green is still vivid, and the afternoon sky still full of light and possibilities.
Do not die such that I find out you are dead because the internet tells me so, or because when I am at another funeral, your daughter leaves me a message so calm and and clear and final in its maturity that her youth sings out from the recording and my reeling brain thinks, 'but she is a just a child'. Your child. Your motherless child.
Do not die before I have cooked you the lavish meal that we planned, before we have seen those paintings we discussed, before I have sent you the oh-so-perfectly-appropriate card I bought on a whim long ago and lost in a drawer; before I tell you that you were right, as ever, when you challenged me about my lover and that was precisely why I was so stung by your wise - as ever - words; before I tell you that my silent gracelessness when I declined your offer was astonishment at its generosity and your ferocious kindness, and not, you fool, because I thought it was inappropriate. Do not die before we have done and said these things, but if you do, know that I will try, as much as I can, to leave no gift unsent, nor thanks unspoken, nor trip unbooked with those that remain.
Do not die, please, only a couple of weeks before I listen to Mozart's Requiem in St Martin-in-the-fields, or I will listen to that consoling, uplifting music in that elegant, rational place and feel, again, the lure of the faith you had. I will hear the dies irae and cry, in that Anglican church, discreet Anglican tears that do not embarrass my friends or, God forbid, their friends, and long for the consolation you were so sure of. But I will remember that I am a woman whose intellect you respected, not a child to be comforted by a fairytale, however compelling and rosy its promises. You have not 'passed on', there is no 'better place', no hand to be clasped again, no 'again'. I will not, for ease or comfort, deny that you are dead, finally and utterly, and that the world is diminished by your absence. I will honour you best not in prayer to an empty sky but in rage; in rage against the dying of your light and in living fully enough to make my own glow brighter.
Do not die, but if you must, know that the fabric of my life will be distorted by your absence; the colours dimmed, threads pulled, holes formed. Know that I will learn from the loss of you what it is to be old, or, at least, no longer young. That I will cower before the prospect of future and increasing losses, of the fabric of my life growing ever weaker and less vivid, faded and frayed like a flag to be folded on the coffin of my empty heart. Know also that when I lapse into such dreary and maudlin speculations I shall, of course, think of your phlegmatic stoicism and sharp wit and pull myself together, and stride on. I will ensure I will remember you in the pages of a well-loved book, in the first sweet sugar-frost of a London winter, in the raising of a glass of fine old wine; I will remember you in the friends that remain, the loves that await.