I have read and reread C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed over the last three years. It is an honest account of grief…specifically losing one’s spouse, and what it does to every part of you. The first quote is about what one can come to believe about God (C.S. Lewis wrote this as a Christian man) and the second is about the loss…and I believe that the analogy sums it up.
“Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer.”
― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
It has never been my belief in God that I have struggled with, but rather my belief that he would allow me to suffer. Who am I to think that I would not suffer in this life? I am not one of those people that will pound after God in a ferocious manner. My relationship is my own, and I share it when I feel like people need to be lifted. I try to simply be the best that I can be and I often fail, but I believe that the important thing is that I try again.
It was well before Michael that I stopped believing that the world was just and holy and that everyone would be to each other the way that I tried to be. I saw pain. I felt pain. I even grew bitter from pain and I made choices to hurt others because of that pain. The thing is though that I never blamed God for all that I went through. I blamed myself, my own stupidity and naive nature. I met Michael and things were well again. I woke up from that fog and I began living a life I always wanted, just to have it taken from me. I thought that after everything that I had been through to get to Michael…that I would not suffer anymore. This time my anger was not directed toward myself, but straight at God. I didn’t turn away…but I was certainly angry. I questioned a lot. I still do. I don’t understand and I know that I am not meant to, but I want to! I want to understand why again? Why did I have to hurt more? What lesson am I missing in this life? I don’t feel bad for my anger, because I think God can take it. I have a new understanding about myself and my heart…and there isn’t really much else that I can say about that.
“Getting over it so soon? But the words are ambiguous. To say the patient is getting over it after an operation for appendicitis is one thing; after he’s had his leg off is quite another. After that operation either the wounded stump heals or the man dies. If it heals, the fierce, continuous pain will stop. Presently he’ll get back his strength and be able to stump about on his wooden leg. He has ‘got over it.’ But he will probably have recurrent pains in the stump all his life, and perhaps pretty bad ones; and he will always be a one-legged man. There will be hardly any moment when he forgets it. Bathing, dressing, sitting down and getting up again, even lying in bed, will all be different. His whole way of life will be changed. All sorts of pleasures and activities that he once took for granted will have to be simply written off. Duties too. At present I am learning to get about on crutches. Perhaps I shall presently be given a wooden leg. But I shall never be a biped again.”
― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
“Getting over it” would be so much easier than what I face every morning. There are still days when I wake up and I open my eyes and I think, “How did my wall get blue?” In an instant I remember that I am in a different house and a wave of nausea rushes over me. Honestly, it is easier when Frank is here. I wake up in the middle of the night, or he wakes me up in the morning to say goodbye and his face is next to mine. I don’t have to wonder or be confused, my answer is right there. “Getting over it” would mean that I would not cry every day. The worst part about the crying, considering that I am pretty used to it by now, is that I have to hide it from others still. Before I hid it because they worried too much, now I hide it because if I openly cry they get all freaked out that I am “still” crying. There have also been occasions in which I have been asked why I am crying and I want to scream at the person “Really!!???”. It would be nice if it was more automatic and I could just get it over with every morning before I wake up the kids and leave my house (sarcasm). Instead it comes when it wants. Tonight I went downstairs, after folding more laundry than is believable, to make the kids milkshakes and I lost it. That was the third time today. The second time my best girlfriend talked me through it on the phone. One week away…just one week away and I have to accept that it has been 3 years. It still feels like yesterday, so how am I supposed to accept that?
Don’t be fooled. What you see when you look at my life is not me “getting over it”? What you see is someone who desires to live a happy life full of love despite the loss. What you see is a person that walks through each day feeling the pain, but living despite it.
I had this dream once with Michael in it. It was after Frank and the kids and I moved into this beautiful house that Frank bought for us to start fresh in. In the dream Michael came back, he was never dead. He asked me to forgive him for taking on a job that meant he had to pretend that he died. He said that he knew about Frank and that he understood. He said that he had been gone a long time and that he was glad I found someone to be a part of the kids and my life. They were both there in the room and I remember feeling torn…and then Michael said, “Can’t you just give us both a chance?” I woke up when he said that and I felt a lot of my guilt (from finding a new love) dissipate. Not all of it…I think I will always have some…but most of it. I think that I have struggled less in my heart since that dream. All I needed was Michael to accept it and justify it…and I realize it was a dream not actually him…but it is still what I needed. So many people have been so awful to Frank and I because of our relationship that it was hard, up until that point, to enjoy it like I should have been able to. I told Frank about the dream and I also told him that I felt like it meant that our hearts can be divided. It is not something that I understood before losing Michael. We give our hearts to a lot of people and things in life, our spouses, our children, our extended families, job, and other passions…God…and each thing that owns our heart does not lessen what we feel for the other. That part of me that loves Michael is what causes the ache to remain day after day. It causes the tears, it causes the questions, it causes the guilt, and it causes the anger that I have thrown at God and others. There are times, if I am honest, where I yearn to forget the pain. But I can’t. And I also know that I don’t want to. I am going to live a happy and amazing life with Frank for as long as we are allowed to. I hope beyond hope that we get to be in our 90’s…because Frank wants to see the Tricentennial of America and I would like for him to see it too…but I don’t know how far life will take us. It sounds morbid, but if we can’t go together…I want Frank to go first (when we are old and have paper thin skin) because I don’t want him to feel the pain I have. I just want to protect him from that…I don’t want him to know this, not for a minute.
I don’t know if this song will make sense to anyone at the end of this post, but I also don’t care. It is beautiful…and I love Pink Floyd. I was going to simply put this song in a post and write “I miss him” because that is what I am feeling tonight…but then I felt compelled to share some of my favorite parts from A Grief Observed and I hope that it touches someone…because I am sure someone needed it.