Memorial Cards have a way of appearing from nowhere

Jan 29, 2024

Michael Harding: The Irish Times   “I imagine them falling out of the air, like messages from the invisible world”

I was in Portlaoise last week having dinner with a young couple and we were talking about a mutual friend who died tragically last year. They even showed me a memorial card for the absent friend; his lovely young face smiling out at us, a head and shoulders shot, frozen in an image of heroic masculine beauty.

I stared at it, but there were no words that could match the moment.

After dinner I went off to sleep in a hotel close to the motorway but the traffic kept me awake and I couldn’t stop thinking about memorial cards all night. I never had one printed to honour my own mother when she died seven years ago, which I now realise was a shameful omission.

An old memorial card relating to an uncle lies on my writing desk, though he is long dead; but the laminated card with the details of his life and a tiny photograph of his face appeared out of nowhere a few years ago, and I have minded it ever since. There’s no explaining how memorial cards vanish and reappear at regular intervals and in unexpected places.

They fall out of books or appear on the mantlepiece or turn up unexpectedly in a drawer of socks. Or they lie hidden for years at the bottom of some cornflakes box where Christmas lights are stored. There are times I imagine them falling out of the air, like messages from the invisible world. I imagine concerned angels passing through the curtain between heaven and earth to drop the cards around the house when I’m sleeping.

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