Monday, October 26, 2009

I Argued With A Nun Once

I argued with a nun once. She posted and article in the local paper about a workshop she was going to teach about getting over grief. I sent her a letter and told her that was an unreasonable concept. I said you might 'get over' the grief of losing a favorite sweater or a pet or a car or a loved grade school teacher or the guy at work that you saw at meetings now and then. I said that some grief is too big to get over and you should not be asked to get over it and that the most you could be asked to do is manage it so that it doesn't mess up your life or your remaining relationships. That the class should teach how to know if a grief is little enough to get over or big enough that it can only be managed. And then it should teach you how to manage it.
I was thinking of the death of my dad when I wrote this. I was remembering how my young sons sat on his hospital bed in the minutes before we transferred him to the hospital where he ultimately died and how in his pain and weakness, he ran his hand over my youngest long tail of blonde hair and how he patted my oldest on the back and joked with him. they should have had him there for their growing up years and he should have been there to mark their milestones. that should not have been the last they saw of their grandfather. and no one can ever tell me or them that we have to 'get over it'. Each passing year in January I do the math of the year it is then against the year he died and the number grows, 1, 5, 7, 9, 13. And each January I tally the times I missed him so much I thought my heart was breaking, I do a measure of the tears shed that year, and even as the number of years get bigger, the missing does not get smaller.
And so I cry in the privacy of my own car or my own shower and don;t bust up over it in public or when I am supposed to be helping someone else deal with their crisis or trouble. And so I use it to help me treasure my relationships with other people instead of allowing it to make me fear getting close to someone to avoid the risk of another loss. I use it to remind me to mention some good trait or memory or story to my boys or to express more in my personality some admired trait he had. That is the managing of this grief that won't even go away. That is the managing it toward good thing rather than letting it destroy. That is what I told the nun about and she wrote back to me that she was reorganizing her class to reflect just that.

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