Funerals can often feel like camp singalongs — all glow, no shadows. The nice things are all said out loud, the rest brims in people’s bowed heads.
This is a quote from the Shelagh article that I wrote about on Saturday, having read and re-read it, criss-crossing the writing from a 'how it all works' kind of standpoint, something that, as I read this year, 'real' writers often do. How it's all put together, this stringing along of words, and more importantly, how those word-strings make one feel. How they can wring you out, create an image in your mind, and off you go. Off I go, anyway. That's how it all works for me.
This one sentence, so poignantly true, left me agape after reading it. I also couldn't quite memorize it at first (something else I admit to doing as I re-read. It's strange, I know. But I like to carry words around in my head, not just my own, but writers whose writing I love and admire--I break them out at the times I can't think of much in my own head. How I admire The Prophet for this. Always giving me something that I can refer to when my own emotions are over-loaded. Also--when I'm running and need a new thought-thread, I spool along this kind of phrase--loaded with meaning, and go from there).
"The rest brims in people's bowed heads". Not only at funerals. This can happen, this brimming, in your job, with all its machinations that you hold on to to better your life. It can happen in some friendships or relationships where you're left, wondering sometimes, how a situation all went down.
It can happen when reading an article like this one, where the reactions can swing the pendulum.
I received two separate, and equally amazing emails reflecting on this article this week.
I'm not going to go into terrific detail about them--they're from dear friends, and our correspondence is sacred, but rest assured--it was a reminder of the connections we make, how necessary they are to our well-being and our idea of self, our own development, looking at ourselves through a different lens,
as friends allow you to do. Family and husbands let you see yourself in that 'unconditional' light, but friends, to me, for me, shine a different kind of light on you, look at you, as I mentioned, with a different lens. One that you have to be present for, one that you get to look back at toward them.
Anyway, both friends shared how the article affected them, most specifically aiming at their memories, as the article did to me, as well, taking me back to other obituaries I'd read, of people I've known and loved, the thoughtfulness bestowed upon the last formal piece of writing about them, the obituary I wrote for my own father, and how magically we can sometimes use a small paragraph to neatly tie up a life that spilled out of a package, certainly, a life that was cherished, that mattered, because I think the message of the Shelagh article is that we all matter, our lives matter, and for some reason, some of us are able to 'show' that more, 'feel' that more--not that we don't all have that intrinsic knowledge, it's just that some of us are able to exclaim about how we missed someone--right to them, and some of us give out hugs and re-assurance easier than others.
I muse about this alot when I look at how differently my sister and I deal with our mother in this first year following my father's death, our lopsided little family--she is good at outings, lunches, driving here and there. I tend to be my reticent self--phone calls, banking, government, hammering out details when selling the house. Whatever, it's all a contribution, which is how we need to look at our connectedness. I like to write here. I like to send long messages via email to friends, and sometimes I don't feel like talking on the phone after a long day at work. But I also think of people, up in my head, and it might be time for me to get that thinking more into 'doing' as Shelagh demonstrated. I'm an introvert, I've mentioned it before, but it doesn't mean I can't sit down tonight and send a hand-written note to someone who needs it, or go and visit my mother and spend that time just 'being'.
I've also been taking real time and care to apply this at my workplace--really listening. Not running about in the mad dash of deadlines (and the deadlines are still there, don't get me wrong) and missing the whole point of it all: we need each other. And believe me, there are times when I think who ARE these people, locked up in a boardroom on a sunny afternoon, the only child-less person for miles, listening to stories about double-A hockey games and suburbia and yes I want to run screaming, but I remind myself--live and let live.
I looked up Shelagh's obituary on line to find out what struck the author of the Star article to dig a little deeper. What struck me immediately was the 13th date (it seems to be a pattern for me with this number-what does that mean?) and as mentioned by the Star journalist, the first line is 'our world is a little smaller' and the last line, this one below, I wanted to memorize, to take with me on a long run someday soon:
"And I feel above me the day - blind stars waiting for their light, for a time,
I rest in the grace of the world and I am free."