I thought I could not
go any closer to grief
I went closer,
and I did not die.
had his hand in this,
as well as friends." From Heavy by Mary Oliver
The fall after Tom died, I sublet an apartment close to the college and drove home on weekends, and the occasional weeknight. As the nights grew longer, I would pull into the driveway to find the house draped in darkness, grief pooled around the foundation. I was afraid of the grief, of what might happen if I gave it free reign. If I got too close, would it pull me into its maw, leave me spinning in an endless orbit as if inside a black hole?
I remained skittish for years, going as close as I dared, occasionally stepping in over my head, when the tides and waves of life shifted the unseen sands beneath my feet. And one day, I went closer. God and friends both had a hand in things, enabling me to get closer than I would have ever dared otherwise.
I wrote. Armed with pen, my quiver of words at the ready, bulwarked by prayer (my own and those of others) I could and did get closer. And I still write.
This brief bit on expressive writing and trauma in the Philly Inquirer the other day suggests I'm not alone!
Patient Spiritual Director and I both read this piece in Wired about ways in which to blunt or erase the memories of trauma. Had this been an option, would I have taken it?