In the first year, I learned and knew you were dead.
In the second, I feel it and live it.
In the first year, I was clutching to the idea that Audrey could remember you, and terrified that I would forget.
In the second, she has forgotten, and I understand now that I never will. This is my acceptance- that I was silly to fear that I could forget you.
Though some of the writers of memoirs that I’ve read have battled the expected suicidal thoughts- and though I’ve wished to disappear and though I’ve asked, “How do I go on?” over and over again- mine is a different battle- the battle between a wounded, but soft and open heart, and a calcified, petrified heart. Mine is a struggle between wisdom and hopefulness, and meaninglessness and bitterness. On one side is eternity- on the other- a slab of granite with a space for my name next to my beloved’s.
Lately- I am losing my ground in this struggle. I feel self-pity. I get that this isn’t going to happen to everyone *not that I wish it to!- that this totally bizarre tragedy is mine and mine alone. I take it personally. I am disappointed and disillusioned- with people and with the church. Bitterness will creep in and take hold…I remind myself- be careful. He would not want you transformed in this way. Mostly, I am weary. World-weary.
Today is the first day of spring- the vernal equinox was at 1:15 am last night- about fifteen minutes after I slept. I thought about staying up for it. Why- I have no idea- certainly not to balance an egg on its head. But I guess we look for symbols- some of us more than others. A day when the darkness and light are balanced – and thereafter the light will have the upper hand- seems a good day for a griever. But instead, spring’s scent is like concentrated nostalgia for heaven and that home.
“Every fairy tale must have a happy ending, of course – a eucatastrophe, or sudden joyous ‘turn,’ as Tolkien calls it-” writes Buechner, and I think every griever spends a lot of time anticipating this turn. The princess is not dead, only sleeping- the poor stepdaughter gets to go to the ball after all- I should know- these tales are an intrinsic part of the three year old psyche and mine recites lines from “princess songs” as if they’re her own, “Isn’t it a beautiful day?” I ask. “It’s a whole new world,” she answers (a line from Aladdin). “Mommy, when will my life begin?” she says to me randomly one day (a line from the song Rapunzel sings in “Tangled”). I can’t help but laugh. “Our lives have begun- this is it!” I tell her.
Still- no turn. It probably won’t be sudden or joyous. It doesn’t even have to be something external or visible- even an internal, invisible turn like a small seed blown under cover- potential- not kinetic, will be enough. In my weariness and resignation, I think of Elijah: “I have had enough, Lord,” and I think of the angel bringing bread and water and encouraging him to eat: “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” And I think of the gentle whisper he heard a little later on- after the wind and the earthquake and the fire.
A gentle whisper.