|By A. E. Brehm [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons|
I may be the only one who puts resolutions into place during the last few weeks of the old year, but I've committed to spending more time in my so-called "real life" and less time online. I've been reshuffling activity between my online identities, including one under my real name that's professional and focused, and this blog has suffered the past few weeks. I'm working on one very large project for widowed folks though, so have no fear: I'm still here. There's just more going on behind the scenes than any of us are used to. But here's one thought from the last few weeks that I thought I'd share.
My daughter and I have been reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and C.S. Lewis is truly one of the great writers -- not just for A Grief Observed, to which nearly all widowed folks are referred -- a previous generation's Year of Magical Thinking, but one that endures.
Lion is a vivid, brief, rich story, deeply moral, a highly original (even now!) illustration of the battle between good and evil, the one I *so* do not want to believe in. But this is the page that speaks to me as I am now, brimming over with the telling of Gavin's last months:
Peter did not feel very brave; indeed, he felt he was going to be sick. But that made no difference to what he had to do. He rushed straight up to the monster and aimed a slash of his sword at its side.Because widowed people -- universally -- complain about being called "brave." We have no choice about it, but are pushed by circumstances, sadly beyond control, to do what others see, perhaps, as exceptional. We'd so much rather not be brave that to be called brave is heard as an insult.
And caregiving a loved one -- for me, living with a husband who was literally dying before me, in front of my eyes, and twisting and turning together with the changes that were sent our way -- is an act of sickening duty. Yes, I'd take each step forward, quickly and from love, but as I realized what was required, any time there was a pause, I'd freeze and half-step backward. There wasn't any way to breathe as I lunged ahead. No way to say "yes" to the job, to being his companion, to finally, letting him leave me behind (or was it the other way around?).
No one volunteers for this. Those that do -- who work in hospice, who make a life from caring for humans in this stage of transition -- must not feel ill at it.
But the rest of us find our compassion choked, a bit, by the forward motion and how little resistance we're able to put to it. And we run through, because the only way out is through, perhaps sometimes we're ill as we go (does everyone puke while they're having a baby? I did -- it's not unusual -- why isn't it part of our image of this dramatic change of life?) but we can't stop for long, and most of us get through, and then, finally we can breathe once more.
And then you get to grief. And grief, at least, is a part of life. But more on that anon.