Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Severe Mercy

One of my pastor's from church suggested I read the book "A Severe Mercy" by Sheldon Vanauken. It's a love story and a story of grief. Since I'm struggling with grief I agreed to read it.
This is what I came away with.

I finished the book and I’ve gone back to re-read Chapter 8 – The Way of Grief.
I think it’s totally ironic that it’s Chapter 8 and Scott and I were together for 8 years.

The love story was fantastic. I think it's incredible that a man and a woman could have so much love for each other, and in the end, she more than him. She offered up her life, so that he would be closer to Christ. REALLY?!!!
Or did she just have a gut feeling that she was suffering from a serious illness, although undiagnosed, and knew it would eventually kill her. So, she pleaded with God to give her one more year to help draw him closer to the Lord?? I wonder if Scott pleaded with God for more time. I know he pleaded for a miracle. He did get more time.

Even though I enjoyed the book immensely, I can say that our “love” story is quite different. Nonetheless, I got more out of Chapter 8 than anything. (I’ve replaced Davy’s name with Scott’s name below).

Here’s what spoke to me the most – Page 179 –
The grim and almost fierce will to do all and be all for Scott for that ½ year ( also ironic) became now, upon his death, tired as I was, a no less resolute will to face the whole meaning of loss, to drink of the cup of grief. I came, thereby to see something of the nature of loss and grief.

Page 180 –
The immediate duties – going through his things like a storm. A sorrowing storm. Giving away and packing things in a flurry of activity.
Doing the memorial for him – for us, his friends and family. Realizing that even though he’s gone, SCOTT IS. And I can smile.

How could things and I go on in this void? How could one person, not very big, leave an emptiness that is galaxy wide?? There are thousands of other things and memories, each of which must be seen once in that piercingly bleak emptiness.
Emptiness = loss and along with the grief – loss and grief are not the same thing. I keep wanting to tell him. I often think that if I could just talk to him about all I am feeling I could bear the loss and the grief.
I’ve also written several letters to Scott so that somehow I would be sharing all of this with him. We shared so much. Whether he read them over my shoulder perhaps, is of course a different matter altogether.

I dream often of Scott. Some wonderfully fantastic dreams and some not so good dreams and often when I wake up I cam smell him. The smell of him after a long Harley ride and the smell of hot leather. I can also smell him the moment he died, that smell of metal against metal. As if a sword fight was happening in thin air. A literal fight for his soul between Angels and Demons, perhaps. I seemed to be the only one who could smell it then.

Page 181-
Contemplating loss and grief. Death of anything leaves a void. The great tree goes down and leaves an empty place in the sky.

If the person is deeply loved, and deeply familiar the void seems greater than all the world remaining. But grief is a form of love – the longing for the dear face, the warm hand.
It is remembered reality of the beloved that calls it forth. For an instant, he is there and the void is denied.

It is not the grief, involving that momentary reality, that cuts one off from the beloved but the void that is loss.
After the intense sharing and closeness of the years ( 8 of them ), the loss and grief was, quite simply, the most immense thing I have ever known.

The "Illumination of the Past" – I’ve started to prepare one of those too, maybe not to the same degree as Sheldon, but I’ve put together another album – our wedding album. Pictures long lost and forgotten of, on that special day are now lovingly placed in a beautiful album that I had Carolyn S. do for me. And more albums are coming. One of Scott’s growing up years, and one of just him and I.

You see, it’s not just one death that I grieve, it’s thousands of little deaths. The death of each and every memory that we’ve shared. Now I understand why it takes so long to grieve. Because you have to grieve each memory differently. And each grieving time is different for each person.

Mike my therapist, wonderful man, said that if we had to face all the fierceness of the grief at one time we wouldn’t live through it. It would be as though you’re on the Huntington Beach pier and a tsunami hits – you would not survive it.

The last few months that Scott was alive, I witnessed the heart of the man that I loved unconditionally. I finally saw the love just pour out of him. He finally came to trust me. He’s never trusted me, nor any woman in his life, and finally at the end- he trusted me. This is one of those last final gifts that I will treasure. Another would be when Scott decided to end all treatment and was put on hospice he asked me not to cry, and I asked him to look at me before he went to meet Jesus, because I wanted me to be the last person he saw – selfish I know, but he fought his way from being under sedation to look at me and he held the gaze for a long 5-10 seconds. We were being still "in the moment" just looking into each other’s eyes.

The most precious gifts he could have given me were those two things.

Scott had a way of touching all those he came into contact with. In ways he never, ever realized. He’s effected me and my life and many people have told me the same thing – that their lives would not be what it is had it not been for meeting Scott.

Scott lived a full life. He took all his assigned years and crammed them into 53 years. I suppose he lived his life in double time. His life wasn’t “cut short” it was just lived faster. His spirit is not here, it’s with Jesus. His memory will live on in our hearts and our minds.

Scott, if you're reading this over my shoulder, know this - I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU AND REMEMBER YOU. Till we meet again, somewhere over the rainbow.