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safe from the winter storms

I usually feel like a pretty brave little trooper or whatever you might want to call it when faced with news of death--not that I don't mourn or grieve, but I typically feel like I know where death fits in with it all.

Maybe that comes of being scared crapless of death between the ages of four and eleven? I've talked a little about my apocalyptic fears from being raised evangelical, but not lately--suffice it to say I was a morbid little kid, certain I and my mother were going to hell, and Jesus was coming, just not for me.

Maybe it comes from being a member of a large family in general (it seems like someone is always dying), or being very close to the holder of the Death Office--you know, the person who always ends up arranging the funerals. Maybe it comes from having been born with grandparents already in their 70s.

Maybe it comes from parental issues--my dad faced down his first bout of cancer when I was eleven, and had several in between before he died at the young age of forty-six (literally only ten years older than I am now). --And my mom worked with terminal patients for the better part of my adolescence, and it wasn't just worked with them, but brought them to our home, socialized with them, etc.

Whatever the reason, while I feel compassionate towards people who lose others, and while I feel grief when people die, it still doesn't usually strike me with a big "WHY GOD WHY" very often. Pretty much only when children die--or, in a weird paradox that I consider vaguely selfish and maybe even narcissistic, people I knew as children (even when I was also a child). A distant friend from high school passed away today, and I find myself vaguely inconsolable--far more grief-stricken than I potentially shoudl be, since I remember very little about this man other than as a genial math-class buddy.

I've been thinking a lot about the sparrow in the hall lately--even before this. It seems strange to me that after spending so much time rejecting any notion of any real God that I find convinced that I'm just a sparrow, and I am uncomfortable, perhaps even unhappy, with the belief that there is no storm outside the hall. I don't want or need an omnipotent, watchful God; but I do want a universe that will open up when I die. Actually, no--it's not for me. What I want is a universe that will open up when my friends, and family, and most especially the people I knew as children, die.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 8th, 2012 12:33 am (UTC)
Every loss is its own journey. That is something I am learning. You can't prepare. You can't take part of the journey before it starts. You have to experience each one, in order, when it happens. Being familiar with death doesn't make the next one easier, in my experience. At this point, that is the thing that scares the crap out of me about getting old.

I also am starting to realize that all fiction is about death. Maybe it's just my perspective as someone currently grieving huge losses, but suddenly I've noticed that death is somewhere in every story, and that the greatest stories tackle it head-on. We struggle with this all our lives.

I am so sorry for your loss. I think I would feel the same way.
Feb. 8th, 2012 01:56 am (UTC)
Perhaps part of the gravity of your loss is the fact that this person is a peer? Obviously we're old enough to know that that we're old enough to die, but i think there's sometimes an emotional level that exists when we feel that connection in a more real way.

I'm sorry about the loss, and i hope you find both peace and perspective in it.

As for your closing comments on God, i'm with you. I'm happy that my definition of God is such that it is the Universe, and furthermore it has the trait of which you speak: death is just a passage from one arbitrarily-defined subpath to another (well, actually, many others -- but i won't get into that now ... perhaps over a long chat were life ever to afford us one). I believe there is much for all of us after this.

Be well.
Feb. 8th, 2012 05:11 am (UTC)
I think of that sparrow a whole lot too.

I'm nodding my head at what cath says, too... my grief seems inverted to me. I can't grieve (not in the normal way anyway) the huge losses nearest to me, but certain distant ones cause the tears to come streaming out.

What you say about the universe opening up--another thought that always brings tears to my eyes is the scene in A Ring of Endless Light where the main character asks the dolphins if the people (well, actually a person and a dolphin, if I recall correctly) will be all right, and the dolphins get up on their tails and sing for her.

I loved that because it was, and remains, exactly the reassurance I want. Not any particular afterlife or otherworld, just: it will be all right. it is all right. In some way, somehow. And the dolphins in the story singing that to the main character were somehow singing it to *me*, and since then, I've thought that somehow, it is all right.

... doesn't make human sorrow any less, though, that our existence with each other here is so brief.

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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