On the eve of remembering

"In grief, nothing stays put. One keeps emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I'm on a spiral? But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?"

It occurs to me that five years ago today, my mother was on a walk to remember my son, unaware that the very next day she was to lose her own. I wonder, sometimes, without really expecting to understand, where I might be on the learning curve of grief. I'm not sure how productive it is even to speculate.

I do know that it doesn't hurt as much. What sticks with me the most is a feeling of unreality. From the moment the doctor stuck his head in our small waiting room and shook it slowly, so sorry, he was sorry. Unreality held hands with the coldest, truest facts of death there in front of us. I was seized over and over with the need to tell Andrew about it as he lay under the sheet, sneakers pointing up. "Andrew! You will not believe what just happened. You died!"

This can't be real.

Home from the hospital, we sat in chairs and stared at each other. Can't believe this.

Here we are, five years later and just the other day Keith said to me, "I still can't believe it. Why did it have to be Andrew?"

It still feels like he is on a trip somewhere.


I sat down the other day and read C.S. Lewis' "A Grief Observed". A small book: bullets of despair, doubt and questions prompted by the death of his wife. So true to me. Yes, yes and yes.

Most of the time I feel honestly stuck in the doubts which he spelled out so clearly. I want to move past them. By the end of the book, there is some resolution to his anguish. A little hope. A kind of hope that feels real, like I might believe it someday:

"When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of 'No answer'. It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head, not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, 'Peace, child; you don't understand.'"


drewey fern said...

I read a book last Christmas in which a man deals with the loss of his wife. C. S. Lewis was a personal friend of his, and an invaluable comforter and counselor. He recounts the last time (I think) that he ever saw Lewis. They were parting ways in Oxford, and Lewis was crossing a main street there, and turned and shouted exuberantly back to him, "Christians NEVER say goodbye!"

I love that.

It doesn't take away the questions, but it glimmers with that little hope...

Claire said...

Yes, yes, and yes. Thankyou, Liane.

Heidi said...

Sending you a HUGE hug.

gretchen said...

I like that last paragraph you quoted--that's really good.

I love you lots.

peter said...

Love to you from us.

Peter Anderson and family