grief words.

16 January 2013

for a long time, i've had no words. 

they needed me to find some for the funeral, so i begged god for words and borrowed words from that ancient prayer book that seems to always say things right. johnny said it was okay if i mixed them up and rearranged them to fit for that snowy night, and so i did - i bent them and folded them and weaved them with tears rolling down my face. i stirred them together with the ones that fell from heaven, into my heart, after hours of worrying that they'd never come - the ones about faithful friends and kindness and laughter, and all the brightness he brought to our lives. 

and that night they unravelled and rolled away, and it seems that i haven't quite been able to find any words, anywhere, ever since. if i stumble across a word or phrase or a poem or two, under a rug or at the back of a dusty cupboard, i turn them over in my hands and wonder if they'll fit, if they can describe this tangled mess of grief and love and loss...

but they can't.

even words fail me now.  

they used to be gold and silver, my ace card, and my release, and now all my words just seem cheap. too cheap, too empty, too feeble for my friend, and for all the love he left behind. 

and so for now, i borrow. 

today, for this mess, anne lamott can say it for me:

Most of us figure out by a certain age – some of us later than others – that life unspools in cycles, some lovely, some painful, but in no predictable order.  So you could have lovely, painful, and painful again, which I think we all agree is not at all fair.  You don’t have to like it, and you are always welcome to file a brief with the Complaints Department.  But if you’ve been around for a while, you know that much of the time, if you are patient and are paying attention, you will see that God will restore what the locusts have taken away.

I admit, sometimes this position of gratitude can be a bit of a stretch. So many bad things happen in each of our lives. Who knew? When my son, Sam, was seven and discovered that he and I would probably not die at exactly the same moment, he began to weep and said, 'If I had known that, I wouldn't have agreed to be born.' This one truth, that the few people you adore will die, is plenty difficult to absorb. But on top of it. someone's brakes fail, or someone pulls the trigger or snatches the kid, or someone deeply trusted succumbs to temptation, and everything falls apart. We are hurt beyond any reasonable chance of healing. We are haunted by our failures and mortality. And yet the world keeps on spinning, and in our grief, rage, and fear a few people keep on loving us and showing up. It's all motion and stasis, change and stagnation. Awful stuff happens and beautiful stuff happens, and it's all part of the big picture. 

In the face of everything, we slowly come through. We manage to make new constructs and baskets to hold what remains, and what has newly appeared. We come to know - or reconnect with - something rich and okay about ourselves. And at some point, we cast our eyes to the beautiful skies, above all the crap we're wallowing in, and we whisper, 
'Thank you.' 

the above excerpt is from anne lamott's 'help, thanks, wow: the three essential prayers' which you should read if you can fog a mirror. 


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