Today has been hard. I woke up to a reminder of my grief. A very good friend of mine sent me a letter written by Ram Dass to the parents of an 11-year old girl who was murdered. What she sent me was an audio link recorded by the parents, prefaced by the story of their loss. I am not clever enough to figure out how to share that audio link, so I will just give the following link for those who are interested in reading the letter: http://www.ramdasstapes.org/rachels%20letter.htm
This evening on my way home I was listening to a really beautifully written book. The Dog Stars by Peter Heller is a post-apocalyptic novel, about a man who survives a flu that wipes out most of the world’s population. He lives a mostly solitary existence, with one human companion, and with Jasper, his dog. Tonight on my way home, his dog died, and Heller’s description of grief is one of the most moving I have ever read. I held out as long as I could, but I must confess I sobbed my way through much of the last leg of my drive. It’s always so embarrassing when I do that! What must all those people in all those other cars think? Well, probably nothing, to be honest. Or perhaps they think it has something to do with the bumper sticker on my car. And of course, they are right, because once grief enters your heart, it is in your pores (as Heller says), and you cannot experience it again (even vicariously through a book or movie) apart from that which is a part of you.
I can’t figure out whether I am supremely optimistic or depressive. On the one hand, the knowledge of loss is my companion, but on the other hand, I am doggedly determined to make the experience of loss into something positive in life. Another little gem I came across today (on Facebook) was quote attributed to Viktor Frankl: “What is to give light must endure burning.” All this pain, all this hurt, cannot be for nothing. My daughter’s suffering cannot be for nothing. She
was is such a brilliant light in this world.
All of your suffering cannot be for nothing, whoever you are and whatever you have loved and lost.
And yet sometimes, it is just an ache in the heart, a weight in the limbs. When I came home, I didn’t know whether I should go out and walk it off, or curl up in a ball and go to sleep. So instead I sat down and wrote this, which is disjointed and circular I know. But it’s just a piece of a story which has not yet been fully written.
Meanwhile, let me recommend The Dog Stars. Perhaps at the end of everything, Heller can make more sense of it than I do.