I am tired of talking theology with a three-year old at dinner. “I wish appa could’ve stayed here,” she says. “I know, me too.” Tired of analyzing her every word and deed, looking for ways to help her deal with her own, apparent pain. Tired of each picture she colors meaning something about her grief- “That’s appa and me, and that’s you and that’s our house we’re peeking out of,” instead of just being a picture my adorable three-year old drew. A drawing I could hang up and enjoy just for what it is.
I am tired of hearing about her imaginary friend whom I might have found charming if her father hadn’t died, but now I constantly worry is an expression of grief and loneliness, a placeholder for a missing family member, or a substitute for the lack of warmth and joy that I bring to our home as a grieving woman.
I am tired of feeling guilt and “already-regret,” my own term for it, for the future when I realize how much I missed out on my child’s most precious years.
But I am tired also of the fact that it really isn’t in my will or choice at this point when I’m “done” grieving. I have tried making this “choice” before. I have rallied, psyched myself up, given myself the pep-talks. It has not worked. I push forward.
I am tired of envying the other widows I know who were married longer. Twenty years? He was so young- 47? I am tired of envying their stories because I know they are just as painful and raw, but I still feel that twinge of jealousy for the time they had. And when I read Joyce Carol Oats’ complaint that her husband was just far too young to die- he was 77. I chuckle when I read this. I suppose no wife will ever say it was the right time for her husband to die, would she.
I am tired of being angry with you- when I am, instead of telling you aloud that “You died,” i tell you that “you got yourself killed.” I am tired of cursing constantly when I am alone.
I am tired of the visions I conjure up of you in the apartment. Tired of laying on Audrey’s bed with her because she wants me to sit there for a while, and seeing you turn the corner to our room outside her door, and give me that silent wave and expression you gave when you came home and she was asleep or I was putting her to sleep. “Hi! I’m being quiet!” it said. And then I knew when she was asleep, I’d open our bedroom door and find you there. Tonight tears drop silently while Audrey puts her legs up on my body, because I imagine you there. And I imagine what it would feel like to see you and hold you. “Go to sleep now, mommy has to go now…”
I am tired of hearing what every widow hears, how amazing and strong I am, when I am not. When most days I am alone, crying, trying to understand that this reality is as real, if not more so, than the one I was living before.
I am tired of staying up late, staring at the computer screen. Tired of “family weekends” with no plans, tired of food tasting insipid, and tired of puzzling and searching, reading and writing out the pain- the story.
Today I read some beautiful thoughts on humans and the need to tell stories by fiction writer Sue Monk Kidd. They point me to yet more reasons why we tell this story- over and over.
“Story allows me to enter the tension between memory and hope,” she says.
“The very process of kneading the events into meaning became a ritual of nourishment. My story became bread through which God mediated grace,” she writes. This has not happened for me yet. The “kneading” does not feel nourishing. Not yet. It is painful, but yes, it is, in a way- my bread.
And finally, “Through story we draw connections between the happenings of life and the lessons of God. We catch God suddenly in the thick of our days, disclosures unraveling out of the mundane. Such awareness transforms life from a series of random events to the poetic realm of a sacred tale.”
No- this has not happened yet either. I am desperately trying to draw those connections. This is what I have done previously in my “old life,” and it has worked well enough. In the “thick of” these days, disclosures must be slow to unravel. Or something.
Poetic realm of a sacred tale…wait for me, be patient with me; I am not there yet.