I'd been enjoying June's ad hoc horror season. I'd got 'The Eye' lined up as the next title in the personal faves project, with 'Pan's Labyrinth' after that. I was planning a lycanthropic double bill of 'The Howling' and 'Ginger Snaps'. A trawl through the DVD collection produced 'Witchfinder General', 'The Tenant', 'The Devil's Backbone' and a goodly number of others. Even the stuff that wasn't first tier, I decided, could be shoehorned into an overview/compare-and-contrast kind of article. I'd also started sketching out an article deconstructing what's cathartically pleasurable about the horror genre and what's just plain unpleasant. I was looking forward to the the frisson of fear shivering its way down the spine of the next fortnight.
Then I got a call at work this afternoon. My wife's aunt had suddenly and unexpectedly been rushed into hospital last night. She passed away at 1pm. This afternoon has been, at one and the same time, lasted as long as a year and gone by in a split-second blur. That makes no sense at all and is incredibly clumsily expressed, but it's the only way I can describe it.
I didn't know my wife's aunt all that well - I'd met her a handful of times, had a couple of brief conversations; enough to know that I liked her - but even grief experienced at one remove is a powerful and devastating thing. I have seldom felt as useless on a emotional level, murmuring condolences and driving people where they needed to go and wishing I could do something, than I did today. And yet, curiously, I also felt an unshakable certainty that I had to do those small but practical things, to provide as calm and sensitive an influence as I could.
And sensitivity being paramount, it's hardly appropriate that I continue this diet of horror movies. The above mentioned DVDs have been slotted back into the cabinet. I'll be taking a few days off from blogging. The Agitation of the Mind will back, with less gory content, hopefully some time next week.