Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Rage, rage against the dying of the light

We spend a lot of time in my counseling sessions talking about how my family does not do emotion.

My mom called me this morning crying. I've probably only heard/seen my mom
cry a half a dozen times. My aunt passed away early this morning. No more details, my cousin had called my parents this morning with just the news.

It's three hours since the phone call. I haven't heard anything since then. Logically, if things take about 3-4 days to organize, I guess we're looking at a weekend trip.

I've been thinking a lot about my aunt's life. This morning I told a friend what had happened, because we were scheduled to go to a party at her house. My friend said, god, what a year you've had. Well, it's been technically 14 months since the first awful thing, but who's counting. My husband considers this the worse year of his life. My aunt buried three of her children. What was the worse year of her life? Has this been the worse year of my life? This year, my daughter has developed the emotional capacity to say I love you mommy and really mean it. How could this be the worse year of my life?

When I was child, my mom's parents died within a year of each other. I once asked why we didn't ever go to the cemetery. My mom said, first, my parent's aren't there. They are buried there, but they aren't there - they're in my heart and mind. Second, life is for the living.

Life is for the living. That's my mom - practical, no nonsense. Remember that book The Deep End of the Ocean? I think it was one of Oprah's first picks. I read it after the hoopla, and hated it. Hated. It was long before I even contemplated children, and the mother just infuriated me. She had lost her one son. And after, she hung onto that missing one so tightly, she missed so much of her other two children. How she could she do that, I argued. How could she focus so much on the loss that she neglected her two living children?! Life is for the living. (of course, the lost son turned up, but still).

Did my aunt believe that? Is that how she buried three children and still managed to be the most loving, kind, generous person? Was it faith?

I want to know. I want to have that grace. I want my face to show I've lived a life of joy and sorrow, but that the sorrow does not define who I am.


Am I doing okay? said...

beautiful, thought provoking post. Me too! Me too!

Antigone said...

I'm so sorry about your aunt. I know it has been a stressful 14 months for you.

I can't imagine how a mother could lose three children and carry on let alone manage to live the giving and full life your aunt lived.

Tash said...

lie is for the living, but sadly, grief is too. So sorry about your aunt. Thinking of you all.

niobe said...

Sometimes I wonder if grief even really exists. I know that sounds like a ridiculous thought, and probably it is. But feelings have always been tricky for me.

Tash said...

(you do know that was supposed to say "LIFE" is for the living, though I suppose lies are too.)

Grief exists. At least for me. Maybe it's like a God-type of thing?

CLC said...

I am deeply sorry about your Aunt. She sounds like an amazing person. I wish I could find grace like that. It's hard to imagine being able to go on after losing one child, let alone three. But her life is a good example for us, and I will be sure to think of her the next time I am praying for grace. What a crappy 14 months for you but I am glad you are able to recognize the beautiful things that occurred during this time too, i.e. you daughter telling her she loves you. I imagine that must give you some feeling of peace.

I am so sorry.

Which Box said...

All, thanks so much for your thoughts.

Niobe, I know what you mean. I have a lot of trouble with emotion. I think you could have been raised in my family, except we're totally thoughtless with gifts and we'd make fun of you for your generosity.