A Grieving Love

So, I was a pretty morbid kid. By all rights, I’m a pretty morbid adult.  As a kid in 4th grade, my first novel was a horror/fantasy novel by Dean Koontz, called Twilight Eyes.  By the time I completed 5th grade, I had read almost everything Dean Koontz and Stephen King had published (except “It” – as a ten-year-old girl reading about the rape of a 10-year-old girl… I had to wait more than a decade before I was able to pick that book up again). As an adult, I enjoy writing horror and graphic violence doesn’t bother me.

I have been spending a lot of time recently thinking about the person I want to be for Amara. It’s been a constant journey, one that started as soon as Nick and I decided we wanted to have a child. Now that she’s here and becoming a little person so fast, it’s all the more real. I need to start modeling better behaviors for her, so she can see me trying to be the best person I can be.

The other day, feeling completely at peace and zen-like (possibly because Amara was still asleep and I had a full night’s sleep and coffee), I stepped out of the shower, and suddenly remembered a poem I memorized as a kid with my older sister:

Too Late
by Nora Perry

What silences we keep, year after year
With those who are most near to us, and dear!
We live beside each other day by day,
And speak of myriad things, but seldom say
The full, sweet word that lies within our reach
Beneath the common ground of common speech.

Then out of sight and out of reach they go —
Those close, familiar ones who loved us so;
And, sitting in the shadow they have left,
Alone with loneliness, and sore bereft,
We think with vain regret of some fond word
That once we might have said and they have heard.

This is the cruel cross of life — to be
Full visioned only when the ministry
Of death has been fulfilled, and in the place
Of some dear presence is but empty space.
What recollected services can then
Give consolation for the “might have been”? 

For some reason, stepping out of the shower with the entire poem ringing in my head with such clarity after more than two decades, I realized how much this poem shaped me to be the person I am.  It is a large part of why I feel compelled to be grateful. Yes, I memorized ‘Too Late’ after I watched my godfather (one of the best men I ever knew) fight a losing battle to cystic fibrosis and how that affected my godmother, the amazing and kind lady I still call aunt. It’s impossible as a kid not to see the power grief has over your loved ones. The grief etched in their eyes, the lines on their face, that hollow ache in their voice… It makes you very aware of the fact that you can lose people you love. I have already written pretty extensively on my fear of loss (see my post Letting Go), so I won’t go into that more here.

For those of you who know me, you’ll probably notice I apologize a lot and say “thank you” a lot. For those of you who’ve known me a while, then, you’ve probably heard me say “I love you”, because, heck, I do. If you’ve tolerated me for more than a few years, then by, gosh, you can bet I think of you fondly.

But my epiphany left me with a whole new view of myself and the narrow way I view love. By allowing loss be my impetus to express love, I have created a world in which loss is the very center of my world.  How much more morbid can you get? While loss and sorrow may have shaped the person I have become, a person I am happy to be, I am no longer that sorrowful Raven, feeling “alone with my loneliness”.  I have friends and family, and I daresay they know I love them.  And yes, it is important to me that the people in my life know that I love them.

I am thankful for all the tools that shaped me to be the kind, compassionate, and loving (if very flawed) person I believe I am (ok, endeavor to be) today.

But a love based on loss is a grieving love.  It predicts the end – it knows and fears what will come (not what may come). If loss is your center, the end will always be inevitable. It knows all joy is fleeting, and is waiting for the final hammer to fall. All relationships are tumultuous. But I want more than to be waiting for the end. I want the joy I have in each friendship, each moment, I want that to be my center. I want to express love simply so each person knows that they are loved, not because I fear that I may never have a chance to express that love again, in the worst of worst worlds.

My daughter, my husband, my siblings, my daughter’s godparents, my in-laws, my friends – they all have my love, and I find joy and peace in that now. There is no sadness or worry anymore.

Just joy. So, thank you, Nora, for giving me focus, but I won’t be needing you anymore. I won’t be afraid of the might-have-beens anymore, because I am living in the here and now. From here on, I will do my best to just be.

-The Rambler

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