Birth, Death, Joy, Grief (14)
May 31, 2020
Birth, Death, Joy, Grief (14)
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future
To a known God”
· Corrie ten Bloom
My wife of 58 years (June 10, 2019) and best friend Eileen had been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the esophagus, in February 2019. Eileen died on February 22, 2020, the day following the birth of our latest granddaughter Maria, and the funeral was March 4, 2020. This blog gives my thoughts, fears, prayers, and hopes during this challenging and difficult time looking at the space in my life.
05/31/2020 The end of May! This week has brought a deep concern for my brother, Tom, who is 91. He is in a rehab, recovering from a fall on April 1, the first anniversary of his wife Mary’s death. He is recovering from walking pneumonia and a concussion, and they feel he would do much better at his home. (He complains of bad food and eats little, and lack of interaction – he is a deep “people person”.) Problem is he needs 24 hour care for the first while, and his daughter and son do not feel they can do that. So I am driving out to Ohio on Tuesday when he is released, and will stay for a week to so. I am taking a friend who is an expert in dealing with agencies and getting the help that he needs, and I won’t have to drive the 400 miles alone.
I recognize that I am in a somewhat fragile form, and I don’t want to have to deal with Tom’s death at this point. The pathway through the death of a loved one is unique to each individual, and there is no way to prepare yourself for the actuality of that vacancy in your life. That hole looms front and center, and no trick or rational helps to fill or erase that hole. The only path is through it, grasping the reality of that day-to-day impact, and accepting that it will always be present, even if one can get life going fully again. This is not something rational, but at the soul-level, where life truly is. So I will try to help Tom deal with the compounding emotions of loss of Mary, his failing eyesight, and his loss of much of his hearing, all adding to his sense of failing life energies.
But I also recognize that I am fortunate to have a strong support system, with our daughter Barbara having been with us for much of Eileen’s illness, and now will remain with me for some time to come, as she has no problem working from any place on her computer. I have the strong support of friends and others that I maintain contact. I can still find joy in my reading, the bonsai, the breathtaking flowers, and life in general. I talk with Tom every day, sometimes twice a day; I call friends often, and am fortunate to be able to use the electronic means to communicate with many, especially including this rambling that gives me a chance to express myself in ways that only my fingers seem to know. Yes, it is true: I had no idea what I would put in this jottings when I sat down to put “pen-to-paper”.
I try to greet each day with a thank you to God, (don’t always do that; I am not a morning person), spend at least a half hour in meditation in the morning and more throughout the day; and read some gentle things when I can, but some each day. I end the day with an hour or more light reading, trying to find humor; and try to find a period of meditation at the end of the day (sometimes I run out of time, but spend the time just before sleep in meditation). All of these help, but the sense of loss or something missing is always there, and that causes me to stop and look around, and then remember…. Always remembering. I find myself thinking that I have to show Eileen this or that in the garden or on the bonsai, or a bird’s nest, especially during this season of rushing to greenery and bloom. I often take a step or two towards the house before remembering….. Yes, Eileen’s presence is real and consoling, always with me into eternity, never to leave.
I would like to end with a prayer-poem by Henri J. M. Nouwen, from the book You are Beloved:
Speak gently in my silence.
When the loud outer noises of my surroundings
And the loud inner noises of my fears
Keep pulling me away from you,
Help me to trust that You are still there
Even when I am unable to hear You.
Give me ears to listen to Your small, soft voice saying:
“Come to me, you who are overburdened, and I will give your rest…..
For I am gentle and humble of heart.”
Let that voice be my guide.
These are the times, my Love, that I find myself too often at a loss and staring into space. But then your Love infuses into me, and I can straighten up and see the sunshine, or the rain, and know that all is well. Which Love am I talking about? Both. The Love of Eileen is often vibrantly present, always infused with the Love of God, which is the only way I can express it.