The holidays have passed and they were happy for me. But not for a few friends who suffered loss because of deaths or break-ups. I was in the position of longing to have words that could make even the smallest difference. I remember after the death of my husband, how awkward it was for some people who would repeat, "I don't know what to say," and as a result avoided me until I was more pulled together. They were right, there were no magic words. But, what I found helpful, were those friends who were able to listen. It gave me some relief to tell my story. In particular, I remember taking a walk with my nephew who said very little but listened with love and acceptance, not concerned about how to play his part.
Two years later, I was in a different place, in some ways more difficult. I had gone from deep emotion to staleness. Staleness is difficult, if not impossible, to communicate. Looking back, I am grateful to a couple of friends who stayed with me through that dry, dull period of my life.
I posted a blog on 10-10-11 titled "There Are No Words," and included in it the poem The Woodspurge by Dante Gabriel Rossetti which I think captures the traumatic moments of intense and numbing grief. You can look it up in this blog's archive, if you like.
The following poem is a far distance from Rossetti's gorgeous poem, but for me, it bespeaks that period, long after loss, that I call staleness and still consider one of the most difficult things to deal with in life. I had just visited my husband's mother who died two years after he died. She was in a nursing home in an odd part of Columbus.The poem is about my state of mind, reflected in the landscape.
I went out into the dry summer air.
All around was flat land, no houses.
Low buildings, engraved with names that told nothing.
I passed pyramids of gravel,
mounds of tires,
wire bales stacked like the hay
that I had seen on a far off day.
By the side of the road, white pipes lay
waiting to be buried.
Over all, a water tower cast its shadow.
Noiseless as Sunday,
I looked up and saw a sparrow
perched and pecking at the grid.
Oh, I was glad to see a living thing.
I walked on quickly
my heart banging
like a stone in a barrel.