Posts Tagged ‘Grief’

The Power of the Dog

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

The Power of the Dog

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie–
Perfect passsion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart to a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find–it’s your own affair–
But … you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone–wherever it goes–for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we’ve kept ’em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-term loan is as bad as a long–
So why in–Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

Rudyard Kipling

(Thanks, Toni, for your thoughtfulness in sending this to me.)

For Roswell, and for Spanky. RIP.

Friday, September 11th, 2009

A friend of mine is being buried today. I could not make the funeral and I am sad about that. I know that there are others who couldn’t make it either, but that we are all there in thought and, some of us, in prayer.

Charles (we all called him “Spanky”) was not a close friend, but he was a friend, nonetheless. He was a boy who was in my classes. He was a boy who was at parties, who gave great hugs, had a big heart, and was quick to laugh. Charles’ laugh was so distinctive that I can still hear it in my head, clear as a bell. After twenty years, I can still hear his laugh like it was yesterday.

Last Saturday, Charles shot his father, and then he shot himself. The grief one feels over a friend killing themselves is overwhelming. The grief of knowing that someone you cared about took a life, much less the life of someone so close to them. . . that grief is almost unbearable. It makes you want to sleep to escape the thought of it. It makes you want to climb right out of your own skin to stop feeling it. You don’t want to imagine the grief of a mother, a sister suffering the pain of such a loss. And yet you cannot get away from it. It permeates everything.

You try not to think about it, but you can’t stop. It keeps you up at night, wondering how it turned out this way. You think, here I am, with my loving husband, my wonderful children, and my happy home. Here I am twenty years later (a blink of an eye, really) and where did Charles go? What happened to him in the last twenty years?

I cannot reconcile the boy I knew with the picture in my head of the man he became.

I have thought of it hourly for the last five days. I have wondered how it was him that ended up with an addiction. There were so many of us, and so many of us did more than we should have, and what made him the victim of addiction? It could have been any of us. “There but for the Grace of God go I” is on a loop in my head this week. I have thought about God, and heaven, and forgiveness. I have thought about whether there is an afterlife, and if it is punitive, or if it is a place where we all will find forgiveness, solace, and peace. I came up with no answers, save one: We are all so intertwined.

When I think of the community I came from, one that is grieving from top to bottom, one that was touched in so many ways by this one family, I know this: We are all intertwined. The things we do have an impact. Sometimes that impact is not seen until we lose a piece of ourselves. And then it breaks down and we are so very aware of the gaping holes in our lives. This one boy with the unique laugh was a friend to so many of us. He was a son, a brother, a cousin. And his loss and the loss of his father are felt so very strongly by one community today. The one thing I know is that we are all stronger for having known one another and that each and every one of us can never forget that we hold those that love us in the palms of our hands.

This is for the town that I have scorned. The town that has changed so much over the years and which I was so glad to have left. But that town is not just growth and development and a homogeneous population. It is the town where I grew up. It is a community, no matter how far flung we all our now; Deep down, we are still those kids that walked to school through an old cemetery to sit in run-down classrooms together. We are church groups, and football teams, and kids who sneaked into neighborhood pools together. We fought at the water tower. We are a bunch of kids in the McDonald’s parking lot on a Friday night, waiting to see where the party would be that night.

This is for Roswell, a community that lost two of her own this week, and who is the lesser for the loss, but the greater for having known each other.

Another friend sent me the lyrics to this song. I have heard from distraught friends all week long. It has hurt my heart, but reminded me that I came from somewhere, that we all came from the same place. That when one of us hurts, we all hurt.

Adapted from the Will Oldham song.

Adapted from the Will Oldham song.

And the original:

Avoidance

Monday, July 20th, 2009

I am avoiding Dogwood Girl. I have lots of little things that i could write about: Things the kids are doing, my weight, workouts, the garden. But I need to write about Pop, and I’ve been putting it off. I know that the reason I am not sleeping at night is that I need to get it out of my head and onto paper (screen).
But it won’t be this morning. Too many things will get in the way, draw me away, and I will let them.

Balm

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

Maybe there is a greater power at work. Kids are a balm for grief. No one with young kids has time to sit around and ponder what it was like to hold a loved one’s hand as he took his last shallow breath, exhaled, and departed this world. Sure, it comes to you in flashes, but you don’t have time to really process it.

I know I will, though. It will catch up with me, and I will wrestle with it.

Small as a wish in a well

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Walter Woodrow Palmer
Born January 5th, 1916
Died July 6, 2009

Rest in peace, Pops. I love you.

This song is sticking with me this morning.

Iron & Wine
Sodom, South Georgia

Melancholy, Twisted, Beautiful

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Just finished writing an obituary for my dying grandfather. It made me feel weepy and it made it seem real that he won’t be with us much longer. Felt the same heaviness when i dropped off a porch swing that he made with his own two hands at a friend’s house last night. It did make me laugh in a bittersweet way that she will be painting it bright pink. Listening to Frightened Rabbit’s “Old Old Fashioned” and reading a story about kids during WWII driving out to a new bridge in Alabama, parking on it, and pulling out an old crank record player and dancing in the moonlight.

Feeling melancholy and weepy, in a life is twisted and beautiful kind of way.

Grief and Guilt

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Grief is a funny thing. You think you have a handle on it, then it washes anew over you, catching you at the moment you least expect it. I finished up my breakfast, then brushed my teeth. Ready for my run, I headed for the hooks in the kitchen where we hang everything: Totes, my Grandma Palmer’s aprons, keys, hats, hoodies, visor, Ipod.

Ipod.

I don’t have an Ipod anymore. How the hell can i run without my Ipod, and how could I have forgotten her so easily? And of course, Todd took his with him to vote, so I am left here to drink coffee, atrophy, and mourn my Ipod once again.

And now I feel guilty for using my dead Ipod to get out of a run.