My friend lost her nine-year-old son Michael just before this past Easter weekend. She'd kissed him good bye, gone to work, and then received the call from his school.
I do not know what all transpires in the human body after a call like that. I don't know how the hand remembers to put the phone down and grab the car keys or how the feet know to move faster than has ever been required of them before. But I do know that the heart breaks, the soul cries out, and the brain goes to an even deeper, more intricate level of comprehension. New processing mechanisms expand and old filters completely disappear. And somehow this new, different understanding of reality has to interact with the old, the day to day, the common.
This can't be right.
Life's rudest interruption.
All things normal now held in contempt.
Daily planning now replaced with attempts at remembering.
Remembering correctly, adequately, responsibly, desperately.
What are we supposed to do with our commitment, our relationship with a person when they are gone? It certainly doesn't go away. It's significance is the most focused picture our minds can muster. And how long will we be allowed to keep everything else blurry?
How can we begin to comprehend what grief may require of us?
I turn to stories. For good or bad, they frequently become my coping mechanism of choice. And here I'll include two places for such stories:
The first is Anton Chekhov's story, Misery. It follows a man and his interactions with strangers the week after his son has unexpectedly passed away. I've spent a few weeks thinking through different passages to include here, but as grief is one of those things that should not be interrupted, I don't want to interrupt the story's flow or remove any details. It's not long. I'd suggest you read it all at least once.
And the second is my friend's blog. Since her son's death, she has been faithfully remembering his life as well as her honest struggles to cope with his absence. The moments she shares with us are deeper than beautiful-- his library books she can't bring herself to return, the articles of clothing now absent from her laundry, attempts at normalcy with trips to the grocery or trying to laugh at funny movies. Her commitment to capturing his life and sharing it with everyone is a challenge toward reverence for all of us to accept. I'd suggest you read it frequently.