Saturday, September 27, 2008

Miscellaney

I keep thinking that it did not happen. Any minute now the front door will slam and he will call, "Hi, Mom!"

A friend whose husband died in a biking accident in the metroparks says that she thinks the same thing. "I imagine him standing in the doorway and saying, 'Hey, I've been lost in the Park for four years ~' "

I wonder how we can ever move out of this house. If he comes back, he won't be able to find us.

My friend says that when she sees changes around town ~ a new paint job, or a new building ~ she thinks. "He won't recognize where he is."

There is an article in today's paper about a woman who lost her 28-year-old daughter a year ago to a sudden wave that washed her out to sea from a spot near Manarola on the walk at the Cinque Terre. We walked that same walk as a family on our 2000 trip to Italy. The mother, who was ordained to ministry a couple of months after her daughter died, notes that the experts says it takes four to seven years to recover from the death of a child. I have watched my father for what in another week will be 48 years. Obviously the experts are clueless. I assume that by "recover" they mean reaching the state the mother's blog reveals today, a blend of hopeful joy in life and anguished sadness and distress in loss. Or maybe they don't mean anything at all.

At the root of Ignatian spirituality is the conviction that God is to be found in all things. Yesterday I began to wonder, for the first time and in the most tentative way, where God might be found in this. A beginning, I thought.

And in the afternoon I accepted my CPE supervisor's invitation to sit out on the beach with her at sunset and I talked nonstop for more than an hour. In May I thought that I was doing CPE this summer to meet a Presbytery requirement. And then in July I thought that I was doing it so that I would discover the work I would want to do for the rest of my life. And now in September I think that maybe I was doing it so that I would gain a friend who can look death directly in the eye, because I would need her only a few weeks later.

Last night I paged through the guestbook from the funeral home. People from California, from New York, from North Carolina, from Arkansas. Rabbis, priests, nuns, ministers. People I have met once or twice in person via the internet. People I have known my entire life. Our son's teachers and classmates from Montessori preschool through middle school, from high school, from college, colleagues from work.

One person said that night, "I thought you said that Montessori school was small. Is the entire school here?"

A phone call from France. "I am so sorry I cannot come; it is just so far...".

We asked that memorial contributions be sent to the summer camp he so loved as camper and counselor. Word has come to us that the camp directors are responding to every gift with a personal note.

Just the thought of God's grace at work is disorienting and exhausting. But perhaps it is there ~ in the friend who sits at the kitchen table sharing ash-scattering stories, in the people who drive or fly for hours to share a few minutes with us, in the evening light over the beach.

17 comments:

Presbyterian Gal said...

I weep with you at each post and marvel at your eloquence and courage in writing about this time. Then I go find my son and hold him close for an extra minute.

I gave you a blog award at my place as my clumsy way of thanking you for staying here and sharing with us. And I send you more prayers and love.

Michelle said...

I spent yesterday writing an autobiography for my application to make the Exercises over 30-days in January, and trying to articulate just where God was in the midst of my grief twenty-one years ago. Weeping with me, I think.

And I will admit to having come home last year (a place where Tom never lived, and 20 years after he died), and thinking as I hung up my coat that I would turn around and share with Tom the marvelous thing that had happened to me that day. He'll find you no matter where you are...I would not worry on that front.

Prayers upon prayers for you, with you, around you, in your stead

Stratoz said...

a Jesuit once told me about the importance of being aware of God's unfolding creation. in your writing an awareness is present if not emerging. I am wondering about how trauma takes us away from awareness. I so want to know what I was doing as a child in school. Maybe I will be visited by that ghost. Michelle and you and others are showing me a great courage in sharing one's story. It encourages me.

peace

Anonymous said...

Oh, Robin. Tears in my eyes right now. So many people are holding you and yours close to our hearts and in our prayers.

Laurie S.

Kathryn J said...

I didn't realize that it was a tenet of Ignatian Spirituality but the finding God in this is where I am struggling too. I think the four to seven year statement is ridiculous - I'm not sure recovery is possible as the very word implies things returning to where they were. Perhaps it happens when the memories become the pleasant visit as opposed to the wrenching reminder. Perhaps, as for your father, the word is meaningless.

I think of you often and am "holding you in the light".

Carol said...

Robin, you continue in my thoughts and prayers. And before my daughter left for homecoming tonight, I hugged her just a little tighter. As my family and I prepare for the Jewish New Year, I am also praying that you will begin to see some clarity and some glimmer of hope in at least some portion of each day.
Thank you for continuing to share your pain and thoughts with us. Above all else, you continue to teach and inspire me with your clarity, grace, and dignity.

Lisa :-] said...

One does not "recover" from a loss to death. One figures out, in time (and who is to say how long that time will/should be for any other person...?) how to pack up that burden and take it with her on the rest of her life's journey. But "recover?" Not, I think, the right word.

Anonymous said...

As I read that same article in the paper, all I could think about was you.The differnces and ethe similarites, too many similarities, just jumped at me and prayers and tears came together.

Recovery is not a word I would have used, continuing a journey by a different road perhaps is more like it. I have not walked this road and do not know.

I do send prayers for you and your family as you go on this unfamiliar and yet somehow too familiar path.

Eve

bean said...

you are so clear in your writing...even if it doesn't feel clear to you. i watch my husband deal with the sudden death of his father - his dearest friend - and he seems fine but i know it's just under the surface. this can be nothing compared to losing a child. i am glad you are moving...forward, sideways, but just moving. you are in my thoughts every day.

giggles said...

As I read your post today, Joan Didion's "The Year of Magical Thinking" comes to mind... She writes of the year following her husband's sudden, unexpected death and her unimaginable thoughts and behaviors as a result.... Not that reading it will help you, but a connection is certainly made in my mind...

I am so very amazed in your courage to share your loss and discovery with us who visit you here... Your faith and public exploration of it is very inspiring.... Keep going... hold on tight....

Magdalene6127 said...

(((Gannett Girl)))

Theresa Williams said...

I see a movement toward healing in this post, a recovery from the initial shock. I don't think recovery means that one's life is ever the same. If anything, everything changes, and each person, thought, event is tinged with the loss. Recovery means an ability to absorb the shock and to move on. This is a beautiful post, Robin. Blessings to you and your family.

"PS" (a.k.a. purple) said...

The mystery of grace...for you, for your family, for this time and this place.

Bad Alice said...

No one recovers. We reorient ourselves. Your posts awaken my own fear of loss, which I can barely admit to myself, as if that will magically keep everyone I love safe. I'm only a sometimes visitor, but I will pray for you today.

Mary Beth said...

Love and prayers for you today.

Cynthia said...

I look up every time I hear the floor creak or the dogs bark at a truck going by. In the mornings I still call out, "How much coffee do you want?"

christine said...

I just want to leave a comment as the women from the newspaper article who said the word recovery--as I was quoting what I was reading in the stacks of books I took out to read to help me in the beginning days of the loss of my only child and best friend--Sarah. I too was shocked and what the newspaper article didn't make more clear--although Jan did a great job trying to capture it all--was that I too was so caught by what experts were saying. My mom lost my little sister when she was 11, I was 20. She was hit my a drunk driver. None of us have ever recovered and I am sure my mom was looking for her as she crossed to heaven.
I have had many people too speak to me as if one year makes it to a point now of being able to "move on". I am not even in the same land. Moving on isn't part of my road map---it is the new journey. Grief is an odd journey...
Am glad to have found another sorjourner to gently hold hands. bless you all. Recover was not my word---it was the experts in the books I read....