“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.” ― William Shakespeare
How short your life seems…
"Once ritual lament would have been chanted; women would have been paid to beat their breasts and howl for you all night, when all living things are silent. Where can we find such customs now? So many have long since disappeared or been disowned. That’s what you had to come for: to retrieve the lament that we omitted.
Can you hear me?
I would like to fling my voice out like a cloth over the fragments of your death, and keep pulling at it until it is torn to pieces, and all my words would have to walk around shivering, in the tatters of that voice; if lament were enough….
I want to form an angel from that sense and hurl him upward, into the front row of angels who scream out, reminding God….
For this is wrong, if anything is wrong…
We need, in love, to practice only this: letting each other go. For holding on comes easily; we do not need to learn it."
Rainer Maria Rilke's Requiem for a Friend
Today is Brighid's birthday, or would have been her birthday? How does this work now? Is this day not supposed to matter now? That can't be true.
82 days ago. Gone…stolen by a ferocious cancer that slammed into her life without fair warning.
Is there ever any fair warning when it comes to cancer?
I doubt it.
It took her so fast none of us had a chance to catch our breath before it happened – least of all, her.
I was blessed to be one of the friends able to care for her during her last days in the hospital. This excerpt from Christine Valters Paintner of Abbey of the Arts breaks me open to read - because it is mine, it is what I experienced during my last visit to care for her:
I took a deep breath and I began to pray those feverish prayers of desperation as death whispered in my ear. When you suddenly hope the way you have lived your life somehow earns the right to a miracle even though you no longer even believe in miracles and deep down you know that’s not how the world works. I prayed that she would be able to go home. But as day gave way to night, I realized that the meaning of that prayer had shifted. Going home would mean something entirely different.
That day-into-night two women who were strangers to each other but lovers of Brighid, her friends, tended her, cared for her, rubbed lotion into her aching ankles and feet and fed her sip-fuls of water. My husband played his cello for her. She never regained full consciousness and we loved her to the depths of our souls as our hearts broke knowing we were saying goodbye...
Cancer is ugly and cruel. The most unfair beast I’ve ever known.
How is she not here to celebrate with her boys?
How is she not here?...
My beautiful Brighid... whom "i have seen her a stealthily frail"
My grieving comes in fits and spurts, sometimes gentle, nostalgic almost. Other times it hurts and scraps at my heart, leaving me shaken and raw. Those other times never make sense, never come with warning – just like her death.
However I do grieve it is all sacred, my remembering, my longing, my loving her still.
Yesterday I saw this video about a man traveling toward death with his wife at his side. It hurts to think of losing my husband. It hurts to think of losing my friend.
It all hurts.
Today I saw this video about the loss of an infant on Facebook. It hurts to think of losing an infant. It hurts to think of losing my friend.
It all hurts.
And today I learned a Facebook acquaintance has died, a young mother who'd already kicked cancer's ass, she died from complications from the flu and pneumonia.
Tomorrow I wonder … what will I see to remind me to treasure, to cherish more ardently every breath, every hug, every word and laugh shared?...
And I remember recently reading this:
So my wish for all that visit this space is to sit with the people you love. That not only know you, but get you. Really sit with them. Listen to what they have to say. Ask questions you want answered. Have difficult conversations, laugh at silly jokes, make fun of one another and tell the people you love of their significance in your life. Do these things as life is happening, not while it is ending.
I miss talking to my father every single day. As C.S. Lewis asks, “How often — will it be for always?”
And I think of this quote (affiliate link) The Fault in Our Stars:
“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”
And Helen Mirren reading 'Ulysses' by Alfred Lord Tennyson:
"though much is taken
And I recognize the ache in my chest, without hope or expectation that it will dissolve or disappear for it reminds me that I love and am loved, have been blessed by friendship, have felt the needle sharp pain of loss. This ache, colored purple and yellow like a 3-day old bruise that is really 3-months old now, this ache has space in my heart now. It is part of me, as is my joy and hope and all else...
And tomorrow I hope for...
Instead tomorrow I will accept what is offered, work towards what I dream of, and love all whom I can.