I wrote this July 22, 2010 but procrastinated posting it until now...
It goes without saying that today is an emotional day. In a way, I relive the shock of Gunnar's death. Grief memories and gratitude intertwine and overlap. With that in mind, I wrote this letter to Gunnar.
Dear Gunnar, I miss you son. Such a huge part of my world is gone. As I sit and write, I cry and smile at the same time. I cry because missing you hurts. the grief is understandably fresh, so I cut myself some slack. I hear your reasuring voice, "It's OK Mom, you'll be alright." I smile as I remember all the laughter we shared. I love our time sitting on the couch watching "B" science fiction movies, making fun of the dialogue and the meager special effects that accompany such endeavors. I never minded you coming home late at night and stopping by my door and saying, "Mom, guess what happened." It seems your best thoughts came to you between the hours of 12:00AM and 1:30AM. The list is endless, son.
Your friends have shared many stories about you with me this past year. I have listened with a heart full of satisfaction.
I am reminded of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's words,
" Nothing will fill the gap when we are away from those we love, and it would be wrong to try and find anything. We must simply hold out and win through. That sounds very hard at first, but at the same time it is a great consolation, since leaving the gap unfilled preserves the bond between us. It is nonsense to say the God fills the gap: He does not fill it, but keeps it empty so that our communion with another may be kept alive, even at the cost of pain."
Friday, July 16, 2010
I thought about Gunnar and Hayden's friendship this week. They were devoted to each other. Each approached life differently. Gunnar preferred the "take the bull by the horns." approach while Hayden employed, "Let's negotiate." tactic They were devoted to each other. Gunnar, A highly kinetic individual, enter into Hayden's sedentary world of cancer. They manage to blend the two in a way that left me in awe at times. Part of Hayden's cancer treatment involved receiving daily shots, mind he is four at the time--not excited about needles. He wanted to be brave but ...So big six year old brother step up, "I'll give myself a shot too, Hayden." And he did. The memory makes me smile and cry. There is such a beauty when one person chooses to enter another's pain. At many levels, we are solitary beings, meaning we are unique and experience life on a unique level. That's the beauty of relationship, entering into another's world. I watched my six year old blend his world with Hayden's. For example, there was a period when Gunnar like football and would choreograph his own football games, complete with a sports announcer. Hayden wanted to play football too. He was fragile, his double lumen line was in place and a significant portion of his skull missing, so participating in a high contact sport like football may not be in his best interest. So what solution did Gunnar and Hayden come up with so that both could play football?--- Slow motion football---brilliant!! Together, My boy's forged a beautiful friendship despite hardship. Their beauty inspires me daily--Thank you G and H!
Saturday, July 3, 2010
"The Guest House"
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond."
I like this poem. It captures an important aspect of grief. It affirms the many facets that loss presents to the griever. Our american culture, as do all cultures has rituals relating to death and loss. But after the memorial --then what? Then-- there is the business of grief. There is opening the door as Rumi writes and offering an invitation to each emotion or thought as they come. Many of the terms our culture surrounds grief with captures an aspect but for me, none express the full measure of the experience of burying two sons. Five stages of grief? yes there is movement in grief but it is not so tidy. Recovery? I'm not certain there is recovery from grief, It is not that type of injury--or the new normal--more accurately, it is tension between two lives one that was full and now one that is empty. Now that I have criticized, I will say what does work for me--the word path--I like that word. It is a gentle word that contains promise.