Thursday, March 25, 2010

Almost Two Months Later

Sometimes we are fortunate enough to find a poem that speaks the words that we cannot find ourselves.


Sorrow


Sorrow like a ceaseless rain
Beats upon my heart.
People twist and scream in pain,--
Dawn will find them still again;
This has neither wax nor wane,
Neither stop nor start.


People dress and go to town;
I sit in my chair.
All my thoughts are slow and brown:
Standing up or sitting down
Little matters, or what gown
Or what shoes I wear.


Edna St. Vincent Millay


Mourning is a strange state. There are times, quite often actually, when I feel happy, contented and at peace. Some of those times I can think about Jon and still feel peace. At others, however, the thought of losing him swallows me whole. Sometimes I feel guilty because I feel happy--a strange state of joy mixed with wondering if I should feel this way when only so recently I lost my son. Then I am left in confusion, trying to sort out how I really feel.


Because how I really feel is something more complex than simply being happy or sad. I've learned that it is possible to be both, even to be both at the same time. As my daughter-in-law and I discussed a gravestone for Jon, we were laughing because her name will also be on the stone, and she's only in her middle thirties. Planning ahead we said, and laughed. Even as we fought off tears, considering which pictures would be cast in the bronze plaque that would define his life on this earth, the too-short years so filled with activity and vibrancy.




I still try to protect myself from those who just have to hug me and tell me how sorry they are. I appreciate their concern, but I am never really prepared for these encounters so I mumble "thank you" and get away as quickly as I can, avoiding eye contact.


Those who know me well simply let me be me. These friends come to talk, make an effort to make time, don't ask me how I'm doing, and make me laugh. They don't expect me to cry but are comfortable if I do. Since I'm not much of one to cry in public, they're usually spared the wet shoulder.


Comforting others seems to be one of my roles, trying to find words to help others deal with the loss they have experienced while my own loss weighs heavily on my heart. Each person who knew Jon lost him in a different way, and each grieves in a different way--but all feel the loss keenly.


Each passing day is a little better; it's a two steps forward one step back routine. Each day we get up and go about our lives and I puzzle over how this can be when one so loved is not here to do the same. There is comfort in knowing that even when they are far away, your family is carrying on as usual. Now one is missing and yet the rest of us must keep on going. Finding reasons and the enthusiasm to do so is a challenge that I meet better some days than others.


The thing is, this sorrow will never go away. It will be there, the river beneath all the happy occasions, the laughter and family get-togethers. It is not terrible--rather, it provides depths darker than any we've known to our lives, highlighting with bright light all that is good.

It will run quietly most of the time, murmuring his name. We ride the river together, and each trip will find us holding on to each other and safely on the shore. That's what families are for.

16 comments:

Mike said...

I have no way of knowing for sure, but I think people experience grief much the same way they experience pie.

All the basic ingredients are there, mixed together fairly consistently throughout the fare. But each mouth tastes it a bit differently:

One person tastes the sweetness more than the tart sourness others find. Some find an equal mixture of both.

One person experiences sadness and loss more than fond memories and gratitude for knowing the person at all. Others find an equal mixture of both.

Eating pie, like dealing with loss, is an individual sport. No two people do it exactly the same. Each experiences it like their tongues and hearts tell them they must.

No one way is better or worse, more right or wrong than the other, they are just different to the pallet of the individual. We simply experience things the way they hit us.

So, however you do either of these tasks is exactly right for you, Sue. It's the way it is supposed to be for you.

Mike

Granny Sue said...

Those are good observations, Mike. Sometimes I think the sugar in the pie didn't get mixed in quite right, because there are some sour bites here and there. But mostly sweet--yes, mostly sweet and full of good flavors.

smallpines said...

Beautiful poem. I was thinking how helpful it must be to find words that express things for you, other voices that seem to have experienced the same. It seems like that must be a part of the healing and mourning process - finding the words, defining. Blessings, always.

lisa said...

Just know that I am praying for you.. I am going to give you a hug from cyber space..I am so like you in that way. But have learned to take them.. ((((HUGS)))) Lisa

Markin said...

"Life must go on;
I forget just why."

Same poet.

Poetry speaks what cannot be spoken.

Deer Camp Diva said...

The thing is, this sorrow will never go away. It will be there, the river beneath all the happy occasions, the laughter and family get-togethers. It is not terrible--rather, it provides depths darker than any we've known to our lives, highlighting with bright light all that is good.

It will run quietly most of the time, murmuring his name. We ride the river together, and each trip will find us holding on to each other and safely on the shore. That's what families are for.


This has brought me to tears.

I think about you often and I keep you and your family in my prayers.

Granny Sue said...

Pines and Markin, I have been looking for poems that meet what I need but hadn't had much luck until recently. Poetry makes emotion and thought visible in a way no other medium does for me. I'm going to keep looking and if you have any recommendations, I'd like to know them.

Granny Sue said...

Lisa, thank you for that hug :)

And Diva, I didn't mean to make you sad, but thank you for your tears and for your prayers. They are appreciated--and so are you for caring.

jenmom2411 said...

The post today has just touched me so much. I find what you say is true, the sorrow is there even in the happy times. I think of you often and am praying for you. Thank you for continuing to write each day! God bless you!

Jai Joshi said...

Everyone has their own pace of mourning. For some it takes years. For others it's much shorter. Neither reflects of how much we loved someone or how important to us they were. It is simply that we all cope differently.

I didn't know your son but I know this: he wouldn't want you to be guilty about being happy. He'd want you to be happy and laugh and live your life to the fullest. By living your life you're celebrating his.

Jai

Janet, said...

Hi Susanna. They say losing a child is the worse thing a parent can experience, and I have to agree. I remember, when as a young child, my mom sent me down the hill to Grandma's house to tell her that her son had died. By the time I reached her house it had dawned on me just what I was about to say to her. I hung my head and murmured the words that no mother should ever have to hear. But, I agree with the above poster that you should not feel guilty about being happy, he would want you to live your life to the fullest. When people visit gravesites, they often speak to their loved ones and it makes them feel better. I think picking a time each week to just sit and talk to them, telling them about everything that has happened, just as if you were on the phone with him, might make your heart feel better. Or for you, since you write, you could write letters in a journal till the pain starts to subside. I miss you and hope to see you soon.

cherylhotton said...

My dear Sue , you remind me so much of my mother . We lost my youngest brother when he was 16 , killed by a drunk driver . She was so much like you , always comforting others and helping them through their grief , she went back to her job as soon as possible and grieved quitely and privately . She was a true inspiration as you are to all of your readers . I think of you often and wish you peace and serenity .

Granny Sue said...

I cannot imagine how you managed to tell your grandmother, Janet. What a burden for a child. I suppose your mother just couldn't do it herself. I am sorry for my brother, who had to tell me.

I do write to Jon, on his Facebook page. Of all things, his page is still up and Facebook sends messages to people to "reconnect" with him--which kinda spooks some people! I think it's neat that many continue to leave messages and post photos of him. My album of photos continues to grow because of their sharing.

Granny Sue said...

Cheryl, what a strong woman your mother was. As an adult, I imagine you can see into her heart more clearly to understand what she felt at that time.

Tipper said...

I'm glad you found the poem-and I'm glad you're still finding your way.

Susan at Stony River said...

I love your river analogy. The poem's wonderful and very moving --I'd never read it before.

Funny how we feel such mixed emotions about ever being happy again after grieving, though we know the one we lost would *want* us to be happy again. We should rejoice when we find reason to laugh, but there you are, we're human. Guilty or not, I wish you loads of laughter anyhow this spring, to go with all your happy memories.

xox
(Sorry to be absent from the blogs this week -- well you'll hear a story when I see you this summer!)

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