Thursday, March 13, 2014

a permanent wound in the soul

I was having a hard time figuring out what to write about this week. This space has been a good place to explore and articulate my grief, but I haven't really felt like I've been grieving lately. It made me stop and think about what grief and grieving really are. Am I grieving when I have a happy memory of Scott? When I relish a beautiful moment with Clark? When I'm engrossed in my studies? I came across this quotation in Healing After Loss (Hickman):
After the dead are buried, and the maimed have left the hospitals and started their new lives, after the physical pain of grief has become, with time, a permanent wound in the soul, a sorrow that will last as long as the body does, after the horrors become nightmares and sudden daylight memories, then comes the transcendent and common bond of human suffering, and with that comes forgiveness, and with forgiveness comes love.
     - Andre Dubus
At first the notion that grief is a "permanent wound in the soul" struck me as a terrible thing. But I'm beginning to understand how the state of being wounded can be a state of connection. It seems like before, my grief was only about missing Scott and all of the different ways he was in my life and in the world. But now the edges of my grief are blurred. It's also about happy memories, about savoring experiences that Scott isn't here for and that I might otherwise have passed over, about making my life meaningful through my work. And it's about more than just me - it's about being able to connect with other people through forgiveness and understanding and love. I'm coming to see my grief as something much, much bigger than sadness, and I'm learning to value what it adds to my life.

This is not to say that I feel dramatically enlightened by grief. Day-to-day, it mostly feels like a subtle infusion. There are still sad times (though they've been much softer lately) and there are good times (Clark and I had an awesome getaway last weekend) and there are neutral times and boring times and frustrating times. But I do tune in to that wound now and then, and it feels valuable to me.

There's been a lot of grief in the Ultimate community recently, following the death of three players from Carleton College who were on their way to a tournament in California. (Here's a Star Tribune article about it.) Tiina Booth, who was Scott's high school coach, wrote a beautiful piece about grief: What I Think I Know. I encourage you to read it. Another response to the tragedy, Why We Play the Game, resonates as well.

Thank you for reading.
With love,

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Our wild rumpus

Just a little heartache to get off my chest tonight. I had a fragment of a dream with Scott in it last night, a very bittersweet moment, and I think I've been missing him a little extra all day long as a result. This poem by E. E. Cummings ("i carry your heart with me") came to mind this afternoon and has been with me since.

Tonight I read Where the Wild Things Are to Clark.
Here's how it goes after the wild rumpus:
"Now stop!" Max said and sent the wild things off to bed
without their supper. And Max the king of all wild things was lonely
and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.

Then all around from far away across the world
he smelled good things to eat
so he gave up being king of where the wild things are.

But the wild things cried, "Oh please don't go -
we'll eat you up - we love you so!" And Max said, "No!"

The wild things roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth
and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws
but Max stepped into his private boat and waved good-bye

and sailed back over a year
and in and out of weeks
and through a day

and into the night of his very own room
where he found his supper waiting for him

and it was still hot.
At first I was struck by Max's loneliness, his wanting to be loved most of all, his being tired of having to be in charge.  I identified with the kid. Except I can't hop in a boat and sail away.

Now I think that Scott's the one who sailed away, back to his true home, to a place of love.

The rest of us can roar our terrible roars of grief. But we still have this wild rumpus to attend to for a little while longer.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                        i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)