Not gone, exactly, but in the next room . . .

Not gone, exactly, but in the next room . . .

Just as I sat here, thinking I should write a blog. . . but about what, about what. . . my phone rang.  It was H.,  my friend and Jungian therapist, telling me she’s sorry she’d been out of touch the past couple of weeks, but her husband, who has been suffering terribly from dementia for the past decade, passed away.  It was peaceful.  She assured me she’s fine.

I’ve been dreaming about her the past couple of nights, and in Jungian terms . . . well, that sort of synchronicity is just the way of things.

H. says she feels C.’s spirit all around her, in a way she hasn’t for many years.  For so long C. has been the everpresent-absence.  Now, she feels as though their relationship has been restored, that she is in the company of the man she has loved for many decades.  The agonizing anchor that tethered him here has finally been raised; he has set sail and is free, but he hasn’t left her behind.  He is more present than he’s been in a long time.

You can see why I value her wisdom so very much.

We talked a little about death, and it reminded me of how my relationship with my adopted father has improved since he died in 1992.  Strange to say, I know, but it’s the truth.  Hours after his death I believe he visited me, and then again in dreams three times, and at Christmas (his favorite holiday) the following year.  Since then I have sensed him with me as I got sober (he got sober in 1972), and continue to feel him with me whenever I reach out in that direction.

I feel the same way about my brothers, who both committed suicide — one on Easter Sunday, the other on Good Friday, a dozen years apart.  It’s not that they’ve gone away, it’s that they’re close, and the need for explanations has been removed.

Having had a birthday recently – one of those that takes you undeniably into the latter part of a decade — I’ve been thinking of mortality quite a bit.  As well, a friend landed in hospital quite suddenly,  a neighbor’s dealing with a life-threatening illness, another friend’s sister died, another’s brother-in-law and my 92-year-old mother is never far from my thoughts . . .

I don’t know what death is.  I don’t know whether my personality will survive it (or even if I want it to), and certainly the crushing sense of loss that comes with a loved ones’ passing isn’t lessened by the sense they’re still with you, but just not quite with you.  Every time I look at my dog I fear the day I’ll lose him so you can imagine the agony I felt the time My Best Beloved had to be rushed to the hospital (it turned out to be nothing) in the middle of a ridiculously stormy night.  It was nothing that time, but as I lay in bed that night by myself, wondering what the next day would bring, I couldn’t help but think even if he was going to come home this time, one day it would be different.

Having someone walk into the next room and stay there, just out of sight, out of touch, is impossibly painful. But it is also part of the human experience.  Unavoidable, unless one dies first.

In the end all I can think is what remarkable creatures we are, willing to love in the face of inevitable separation.  One hopes even that separation is only temporary, and yet this is mere speculation, just a small fragile feathered thing.  My friend H. says her husband’s death was peaceful.  Perhaps that is what I wish for, if nothing else works out — peace at the last.  Peace at the last.

 

14 Comments

  1. Charlotte on September 17, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Found myself nodding my head after every single paragraph, and then when I was finished, I started all over again from the beginning. This is a profoundly beautiful piece, You reach through your own anxiety and grief, calmly, so even in our aloneness we feel less alone.

    • Lauren B. Davis on September 17, 2013 at 1:21 pm

      Oh, thank you, Charlotte. It was one of those pieces I was convinced no one would read, much less relate to, so you’ve made my day.

  2. Dida on September 17, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Lauren … I loved this short and yet powerful piece. Not because it was about death but because I had a feeling that you were thinking out loud and putting your thought, as they appeared on paper.

    Like Charlotte, I nodded and wept because it made so much sense.

    This short paragraph is perfect, absolutely perfect …

    Having someone walk into the next room and stay there, just out of sight, out of touch, is impossibly painful. But it is also part of the human experience. Unavoidable, unless one dies first.

    • Lauren B. Davis on September 17, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      Thanks, Dida. Thanks very much.

  3. Gari-Ellen on September 17, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    Thank you for that – “willing to love in the face of separation” – and we must!
    Beautiful piece.

    • Lauren B. Davis on September 17, 2013 at 7:55 pm

      Cheers, Gari-Ellen!

  4. Sheila Halloway on September 17, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    Lauren, similar to others who have commented, I was very moved by your essay. We all know there are certain events that are inevitable, and “death” is certainly one of these. The way you expressed your feelings echoed what often goes through my mind and heart…. “willing to love in the face of inevitable separation.”
    thank you for capturing these sentiments so exceptionally well. warm regards, Sheila

    • Lauren B. Davis on September 18, 2013 at 9:40 am

      Thanks, Sheila. This morning I woke to the news a dear friend and neighbor died yesterday. Sigh. It gets pretty crowded in that other room.

      • Dida on September 19, 2013 at 4:43 am

        And it is crowded in that other room … why do we kind of assume that there are more of us in the ‘living’ room?

        • Lauren B. Davis on September 19, 2013 at 8:56 am

          Indeed, Dida, indeed! 😉

  5. Hermgirl on September 20, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    My Dad went to the “other room” on a beautiful Sunday evening in 2010. I had been his caregiver, and I was also one of the people that cleaned up the house after he passed (he was a hoarder.)

    A couple of weeks later, as I was going through a book of old, dingy postcards, I found one one that was very different from all the others. Instead of a brown, tintype-looking picture of a park, or people in Edwardian dress, there was one in the middle of the page th)at was colorful, looking like it came from the 1950s.

    Rather than a picture, it had lettering that said, “Give yourself a kiss from me!” It made me smile. Dad was talking.

    Haven’t really heard from him since, I figure he’s kind of busy.

    BTW–I finally finished Our Daily Bread, I’ll have a review of it up soon. (Great book!)

    • Lauren B. Davis on September 20, 2013 at 3:50 pm

      What a lovely story. It seems to me your father was indeed talking to you. What a gift. Thanks very much for sharing it. And I’m so glad to hear OUR DAILY BREAD pleased you. When your review is up, send me the link, won’t you? Again, thanks.

  6. Irene Goodenough on September 22, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Hello Lauren, I could really relate to what you wrote about death, and in particular your line
    “In the end all I can think is what remarkable creatures we are, willing to love in the face of inevitable separation. ”
    I’ve read over quite a few of your earlier blogs and am impressed with your ability to express yourself so clearly. I’m going to buy your new novel today, and look forward to reading more of your work. Thanks, Irene

    • Lauren B. Davis on September 22, 2013 at 1:39 pm

      Thank YOU, Irene — both for taking the to comment, and for buying THE EMPTY ROOM. I hope you find it worthwhile.

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