Grief. "No one ever told me that grief feels so much like fear." ~ C.S. Lewis. I remember the first time I read that and it resonated in my heart. These past several days I have watched some of our friends grapple with the terror of grief in losing their young son to a tragic accident. I have looked at my own children with something akin to insatiable hunger - to see them prosper, live fully, find joy, and even simply to breathe. To breathe in all the best parts of what life has to give them. And yet, I know life is pain, in so many ways - excruciating, agonizing, paralyzing pain. I have fought guilt as I watched Kelton gallop down the hill ahead of me, glancing back with his exuberant toothless grin, and I was gently admonished/reminded by a beloved friend that guilt is the enemy; this grief we observe (and share in some distant shadow) requires and should compel us to hold, cherish, and count every moment as a gift.
It seems to me that when we are confronted with death in it's most potent form(s) we are pummeled by the magnitude of the curse, the fall of humanity. Death and the subsequent grief gives us a blunt encounter with the unavoidable reality that we are heirs in a fallen world. Grief cuts to the core of our human brokenness. In the smallest moments of these (broken) days, I see life and hope and the promise of the greatest love.
How can we feel peace in the "normal" of our every day life when we are witness to the chasm in the lives of those we care about, and which has so permanently altered their lives? We are none of us untouched by the horror of death, nor by the permanent change it creates in our lives. Yet, I really believe we are given the responsibility (privilege?) to live - wholly - if we survive the breaking of our hearts.
I have found laughter in the unexpected places these past few days. Kelton snuggled up to me last night and said, "Mama, I hope I marry a mom just like you. I want her to look just like you and act like you." That particular expectation is likely to alter a bit as my general popularity wanes with time and the rapid approach of Kelton's maturity. :-)
As we cantered through the thrift store today, I found several large bags of tampons for a great price. Declan, standing next to me, said, "Mom what are those?" I discreetly ignored him. "Mom, what are those?" I continued to discreetly ignore him. "Mom what are those? Grenades???" I think everyone in the store looked at us. Then, because I couldn't breathe as I laughed and still hadn't answered him, "Mom, are they smoke bombs?" Smoke bombs? Grenades?
Madigan: "Mom, I think you should be a cook." "Madigan, I am a cook." "No, I think you should be a real cook." "?????" "If you were a real cook, you would be rich." So, I'm assuming "real" means "fiscally compensated for one's efforts"? I'm taking it as a compliment.
As I sat attempting to watch a TV show with the family tonight, Lochlan kept standing right in front of me - extremely close - chatting constantly. When I finally took real notice of his efforts, he started pointing to every body part he knows and saying them out loud. When I repeated each word to him after he said it, his whole face broke into the most beautiful grin. He ended by running his hands from his neck to his torso, and saying "BOOOOOOOOOOO(d)YYYYYYYYYY. "That's right, 'body!'" I told him. He laughed and did a little dance. Be. Still. My. Heart. I can't breathe from happiness. Not only is he using words to communicate, but he is drawing us into his (previously very lonely) world.
"Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape." ~ C.S. Lewis
With time, the chasm of death, the void of loss is changed, though the love never changes.