Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Grief Bond

My poet friend, Mara, lost her husband, Cory, unexpectedly just before Jimmy died in July. She was with Cory when it happened. By October I was ready to drive out to visit her. We picked apples from her orchard and sat on the edge of the woods by a rock cropping, Cory’s favorite spot, and compared notes. “Do you want the community to start a food tree for you?” she asked. “No, I don’t want to see people now,” I answered. “I didn’t want to be alone,” Mara said. “I throw things away easier now, but I save things easier too,” I shared. She knew what I meant (something about knowing what was important and what was not) because we were speaking the same language. ~ From Death’s Poetry, The Jim and Dan Stories.

Mara and I share a love of writing as well as playing scrabble, but because she’s been busy with her creative writing classes at Hollins College, we haven’t seen each other much lately. Even so, she called me the day before I left for Boston to visit my father in the hospital, feeling that something was wrong.

“What can I do to help? Can I come over?” Mara asked when she learned that my father was in the ICU.

“I’m busy packing to go to Boston. Just keep me in your heart.” I answered, and then I added, in the language that we share, “I know that you know that I know you know, you know?”

Mara did know. She and I share what she has coined as “the grief bond.” And her phone call reminded me of another one described in “The Jim and Dan Stories…”

My friend, Mara, called to see how I was doing. I was crying over George Harrison’s death at the time. “I’ll call you right back,” I said… “If I had just lost a husband, it would be hard to find a few other people, let alone nine, who had just lost theirs and could offer support,” I said after she told me she was seeing a grief counselor. I had a built in support group! Is that why I couldn’t go a day without talking to my family members on the phone or through e-mail? Each of us has an individual way to grieve, yet I had nine others who really did know what I was going through. Two brothers dead a month apart, who else could relate to that? Mara had a little girl to take care of, and she hadn’t been back to the Pine Tavern to read her poetry since a woman there made a comment about her dress. “Red? I thought your husband just died,” the woman had said. Mara lost her boldness right there. ~From The Red Dress

Later, on the same day of our phone conversation, we ended up running into each other in town. She was coming from the Harvest Moon Health Food Store as I was on my way to it. We pulled over in front of "Oddfellas Cantina" and shared a big knowing hug on the side of the road… another language we have in common.

Update: I'm posting from the Hull Public Library. After this, my mother and I are heading out to see my father at the Tufts New Enlgand Medical Center. Over the course of the last few days, he has undergone several ups and downs. He's back on the ventilator but stable with that. He's lucidly present, which is a blessing. We're holding him in the light...

Note: From Looseleafnotes.com November 2, 2005.

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