May 06, 2011

eight spoons

I have a friend in grief.  Three actually, but only one who I see face-to-face on a regular basis.  This friend has lost a child.  Not to death, mind you, for that would have been easier in many ways.  This friend's 1-year-old foster daughter, whom she had mothered from birth, was taken from her in the middle of their adoption process on account of a slip in the system, a mis-shuffle of paperwork, selfishness, corruption - on account of a broken world.  A person showed up at their door one day and took her daughter away.  When they did, they took a piece of my friend away, too, and she will never see either one again.

Another of the friends I have in grief has a blog and it will give you the chills.  He and his wife are living through the aftershock of a stillborn child.  He writes, "Then there are the waves of grief that come as a surprise and force me to take a deep breath in order to avoid throwing up. Like why must I wake up at 5am thinking about the fall on the sidewalk? Why does it replay over and over in my mind like a cruel slideshow where every slide is the same image? Or sometimes the grief is a sudden flash into my future life. This wave seems to build up steam, getting louder as it approaches, and then states boldly in no uncertain terms: Margot is still missing."

And that's just it with grief, I am learning.  It changes, like waterlevels, like seasons, like scenes in a play, but it is always the same play.  The life of a griever will always be marked by the day that it happened.   The rest of the world keeps on keeping-on, leaving the person in grief standing there, separated from everybody else by their pain, shattered like a windshield who's pieces don't fall.

I remember getting the call in high school that a friend's car had been sideswiped.  The last movement her body ever made was her head meeting the driver's side window.  She was 17 years old.  That was 14 years ago, and when my mom gets together with her mom, as they do every few years, Carla always comes up.  14 years after her death, her mother still wants to set her a place at the table.  14 years later, Carla is still missing.
Our dearest group of friends in the world got together this week for their annual reunion.  We are present when we are in country.  This year we weren't.  They cooked for each other, per usual, and held each others' babies, and heard each others' stories of the hurts and joys of the past year.  Last night, when they put the kids to bed and got out the dessert, Jack went to the kitchen and mistakenly grabbed eight spoons.  Without us, only six spoons were needed, but there we were, in their hearts, our place firmly established, causing Jack to pull eight spoons from the silverware drawer.  I cried when they told me.

My friend who's daughter was stillborn says there is a society of grief.  Those who have known it, who are still knowing it, walk this earth with a keen awareness of life to which the rest of us are oblivious.  They meet one another and they embrace, bonded by their shared burden.  I know that when they meet me, my hugs are annoyingly insufficient.  Yet I know that one day, when I enter into this society, I will prefer insufficient hugs to none at all.  The thing is, this world really is broken.  There are no answers sometimes.  I pray for my friends and I hurt for them, and I search the skies anxiously, more often these days than ever before.