Grief can be a road or a roadblock. Its debilitating power can rob joy, stifle creativity, and foster a sense of “what’s the point?” Or its despair can be riddled with gratitude and hope. C. S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed journals his personal turmoil toward acceptance, faith, and love. I’m convinced that he got to the final conclusion because he had such incredible love for his wife, and he knew she felt that love in her whole body and soul. When my brother Danny died a year ago, grief suffocated, stifled, and ramrodded me into a year of painful self-reflection, guilt, should’ve/could’ve/would’ve’s, self-loathing, self-doubt, and regret. Did Danny know how much I loved him? Did I tell him enough? Could he feel it in his body and soul? I doubt it. Hence, the remorse which has now blossomed into hope, determination and love. I’m grateful to Danny for teaching me that love is not to be messed with, to be hidden, or to be taken for granted.
Now, after a year of bottled emotions and ominous fear that I may burst into tears at any moment, it’s time to gently lift the seed out of the rocks and carefully plant it in rich soil, shining Light, and tender love. There is no growth in darkness, and somehow, through all of this, others have managed to show me that I am worthy of God’s love. That precious love is channeled through my husband, my children, my friends, my family, my loved ones, my students, my colleagues, and even the cashier at CVS. And if I am ever in doubt about love’s incredible impact, I need only watch my joy-filled granddaughter Eileen with Tim. It is a beautiful sight to behold.
I’m going to try to write again. My Aunt Aggie e-mailed me last April, nine months ago, and said she missed my creative writing. I made a lame excuse about having trouble finding time. It didn’t seem appropriate to share with her that I was experiencing a tremendous dip in life and self-esteem. She’s been through enough of her own grief not to hear about mine.
Thanks for asking, Aunt Aggie. Here goes. You never know when a nudge will move a mountain.
A year after posting Danny’s eulogy, I’m ready to try again, to trust, to share, to love, and as Mary Oliver encourages, “Pat attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”