Saturday, June 26, 2010

Comfort Food

I rarely reread fiction stories I have enjoyed--I just don't seem to enjoy them so much the second time around. I do however have many non-fiction books that I return to over and over again that are like comfort food for my soul. There are a few exceptions to the fiction book category, and those include The Chronicles of Narnia books that I first enjoyed as a very young person. I can remember when I was working full-time (and getting paid ;-) and would have a hard day, I would come home, fix a drink, take a bath or just soak my feet in hottest water I could stand, and pull out one of these books. A few chapters could often soothe even the yuckiest of days.

Two books I am currently revisiting (and their dog-eared covers and pages show I have done this many times) are Blue Like Jazz and The Stars Shone in My Hands. It is like spending time with an old friend who "gets me" but still stretches me to grow--giving me food for thought.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Talking (or Not)

I got together with friends several weeks ago. There were two friends at this gathering who had lost a parent at a very young age...a woman who lost her mother at 9 years old and a man who lost his father at 5 years old. In case you don't know, those were almost the exact ages of my children when Todd died last year.

As we talked about how the kids were doing, the woman said something very comforting. She said that she thought that God blesses children with a degree of healthy shock throughout their childhood...that this had protected her from having to face the full assault of her grief as a child. She also said she carried her mother's love inside her and that got her through many trials that resulted from the shift in family dynamics. The man is one of strong character, who reminds me a lot of Todd in his easy manner, quiet ways, and perfect contentment to just hang out and not be the center of attention. Over the years, his wife and I have often compared the two (he and Todd) and given thanks that our respective mates balanced us for the good. These two beautiful and strong people are living testimonies to me that although my children will certainly bear some scars, they can still move beyond this tragedy to a happy and healthy future.

Much later that night, there were just 3 of us left. We talked in more detail than I have in quite some time about all that happened. It is very difficult for me to talk about it (meaning the events of that weekend, the events in the aftermath or how I have handled emotional things up until now) as a continuous stream of events, but I was more able that night. I usually experience my grief on a cellular level when I do talk about it...I can't really explain it other than that--my entire body experiences a shut-down of sorts when I begin to share the story. I was okay that night while we were talking, but the next morning when I woke up, I had that same feeling of grief and sadness touching every cell in my body. I thought about why I had this delayed reaction to it after a few hours sleep. I recently read that you should "talk, talk, talk" about it as much as possible to help you move through your grief, but I was unconvinced that I needed to "talk, talk, talk" and threw the paper in the trash in aggravation that I had been sent yet another "5 easy steps to overcoming this great loss in your life." (That's not what these mail outs really say, but that is what I choose to "read" between-the-lines.) Maybe the talking is more necessary than I think (although I am still not ready to do it on any kind of regular basis), and maybe it peels away a little more of the onion each time I do. I spent some quiet time that morning thinking about two things in particular that I guess I needed to process, and I felt a surge of (good) adrenalin as I picked these things apart and considered them. Maybe if I will open myself up to talking about things a little bit more, some of this grief will release its hold. I will just have to get back to you on that because at this moment the thought of talking about any of it sickens me, but this idea makes perfect sense along the lines of "facing things head on" being healthy for you in the long run. At any rate, I keep plugging along.