Today was an unexpectedly hard day. A man I barely knew, who was hardly tied to my family, died recently. He led a good life. He was 89 years old. He passed after a long battle with Alzheimer’s and various “old age” illnesses, like double pneumonia. He was a veteran and well loved. We met twice, maybe three times. He was a nice man. His daughter is my mother-in-law. She married my father-in-law after I married J.D. By all accounts, this was about me showing up to support her.
Tell that to the girl on the back row crying to herself.
Every funeral, since those of 2006, first burying my Nunna and then my D-daddy, has been a revisiting of their funerals. Every burial has been me burying them again. You must understand that they were my stars. They were EVERYTHING in the world that was stable and loving. I love my parents and losing them will be hard. But losing my grandparents was like losing my true north. And my compass has never recovered.
So today, sitting in the back row, alone, at the funeral of man I barely knew, I tried desperately to not interrupt the grief of another family. And I grieved the loss of the only unconditional love I have ever understood.
A self is not something static, tied up in a pretty parcel and handed to the child, finished and complete. A self is always becoming. Being does mean becoming, but we run so fast that is only when we seem to stop–a sitting on the rock at the brook–that we are aware of our own isness, of being. But eventually this is not static, for this awareness of being is always a way of moving from selfish self–the self image–towards the real.
Who am I , then? Who are you?
~Madeleine L’Engle, A Circle or Quiet, 1972.
I can’t decide if this idea scares me or relieves me.
I’m not a fan of change. I don’t like moving. (Hush Joe. Just because I have moved a lot doesn’t mean I like it.) The older I get the harder I find having everything in chaos. It feels like the edges of my self are blurred when nothing is in its place; when I don’t know the multiple ways around and through a town. And yet that seems ridiculous, doesn’t it? Absurd that I would be so defined by the kin, if you will, of my environment.
On the other hand, thank goodness my “isness” is changing. There are so many versions of my self out there that I would prefer to never visit. How relieving it is to know that I don’t have to be the same, always.
How scary, though, the thought that neither does anyone else.
NPR has been doing a series on the Sounds of of the Season. I thought I would throw mine in the hat.
I would like to offer my condelences to the parents and loved ones of Amy Winehouse. As the mother of a
beautiful, independent and fantastic four year old, I imagine that the hardest lesson we parents learn is that the most awful monsters we try to protect them from are the ones they find inside themselves.
We wish you all the strength in the world.
Alice, JD, & Bean