Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak whispers the o'er-fraught heart, and bids it break.
As some of you know, Tuesday was Dad's birthday. He would have been sixty-nine. And on that day, I posted a rather somber piece about how much I miss him, particularly at this time of year, particularly in this immediate wake of my third daughter's birth.
I want you to understand something. I debated whether to post those words. I did not debate whether to write them; I needed to write them. But I did question whether I wanted to make them public. I face this dilemma every time before I publish something private, something more vulnerable. Ultimately, I decided to go for it, to send my sober words into the ether. I knew that it would be hard for some to read, particularly for those who have weathered a similar loss. I knew that it was not one of my "fun" posts. I knew these things, but I went ahead anyway.
I'm glad I did.
I'm glad I did because after I wrote those words, and after I published them here, I immediately felt lighter. Better. Like I had acknowledged something. Something hard. Something true. Something important. This was yet another confirmation for me that writing is in so many ways my own breed of therapy, that through words - read, thought, written - I am able to feel and heal.
But I learned something else. That something? That written words are not necessarily sufficient when it comes to grief.
On Tuesday, on Dad's birthday, Mom and I went to lunch. It was just the two of us as the rest of my sisters were out of town. We met at one of our favorite local spots. A health food joint. I had the shrimp burrito and Mom had the veggie burger. We toasted Dad with a delicious midday glass of rose wine. The lunch started out as most of our lunches normally do - with chit chat, dips into current events and the news. But soon we were talking about Dad. About who he was before and after the cancer took hold, about what we remembered. We talked about his (oft-conflicting) identities as husband, father, and philosopher. Together, we marveled and mourned at the fact that we have been without him for going on three years.
Amazingly (or maybe not so?) it was a pretty happy lunch. One full of subtle celebration and keen memories. Looking back, I can envision us there: Mom and daughter at a tiny table for two. Eating lunch. Loving and longing and laughing. Grieving gracefully.
Giving sorrow words.
I realized then, and do now, that it is critical to revere our grief alongside those with whom we share it. That it is critical that we get out there in the world, that we lock eyes with other people, that we prop up those we love and let those we love prop us up, that we realize that it is not necessary to feel these things, these impossible and instructive things, alone.
And so. On the day I was aching for the parent I've lost, the parent I still have and love deeply stepped in. And she sat there, across from me, and I across from her. And we talked. We remembered. We laughed. We ate. We drank. We lived.
And so. On this day, a different day, I feel compelled to say thank you. To all of you, for reading my words even when their edges are rough and raw and real. Even when they are not sparkly bits blanched with sunshine.
I also feel compelled to say thank you to Mom. For being there, and here, on that hard day, and always. For well-timed lunches and constant love. For teaching me to give sorrow words, and how to grieve with strength.
This picture? It's the very same shot - taken from our hospital room - as the gloomy one above. Isn't it amazing that depending on what setting we choose, on how we tweak our existential lens, the resulting view can be more melancholy or magical?
Do you agree with Shakespeare that it is important to give sorrow words, that unspoken grief will lead to a broken heart? If you blog, are you hesitant to explore sadness so publicly? Do you agree that written words are not necessarily sufficient to grapple with grief? Do you think how we see the world is largely up to us?