My Dearest Most Beloved Zee,
It is a wonderful day today. The sun is shining. It is 65 degrees. A day of breath-taking beauty, really. And I am confused.
For all the darkness and shadows, the raw brokenness of the grieving, for the hours of lostness, this should be a welcome relief. And it is. Don’t get me wrong. But I find myself crying out in a moment of intense pain, encountering a new part of my psyche that feels profoundly bereft and aches for you, aches for you to still walk among us.
It is like the lines from the Edna St. Vincent Millay poem.
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, “There is no memory of him here!”
And so stand stricken, so remembering him!
This day of beauty is like so many we shared, but are to be no more. They are the days that used to fill you brimming over with energy and mischief. Not that you needed much inspiration for mischief.
I am filled beyond capacity with well-springs of the deepest gratitude for having shared part of your life and having been able to share part of my life with you. I try to comprehend what I am feeling and my mind cannot get around it, much like trying to hug a tree trunk that is larger than one’s arms can encircle. But now you are not here, and I feel like the tree trunk I have been hugging has suddenly disappeared. I am off balance and falling before I can put my foot out and right myself again. And this process goes on over and over and over again.
I understand this is part of the process. I understand that the shock of realising I am falling is the very thing that brings me back to real life and will continue the healing that I so desparately need. But my heart says, “Not again!” every time this happens. The awakening is so abrupt, so unwelcome. It seems that there is no difference. The relentless march of untold days in the shadows has blunted my shock and denial enough that most of the time I am painfully aware that you are irretrievably gone. But there are moments that are filled with poignant memories, so real I almost expect to open my eyes and see you there or hear your voice. Then, when I do open my eyes, I am dragged back to the stark reality that however pleasant, they are only memories of what has been and fantasies we were not able to fulfill.
I do not know how to put one foot in front of the other. I try, but most of the time I am just stumbling around aimlessly. Yet, however aimlessly it may seem, I have to try. It is the only out, the only way to find life on the other side of this great sadness. The only way back to the life you loved so much.
I see and hear your disapproval of my wallowing in the melancholy. With a frown upon your face, you look at me and say, “You cannot do this. You need to take advantage of what you can today. You need to get up and go out for a walk. You need to breathe in life. You need to quit this setting in the dark. Dry your eyes and let’s go take a walk. It’s a nice sunny day. Let’s take advantage of it.”
So I will go out and try to turn my face toward the sun today. I will try to reach forward to the coming dawn. I will try to live, because if I do not, there is no one left to tell our story.
With much love,
— J. E. Clark | 7 April 2011