Dear friends and readers,
As yesterday I attempted to rest at home after several days of doing too much, driving myself to be sure and have finished all I promised I would do and told myself I needed to (for another blog, a diary one), when it was near 5 in the afternoon, and I felt so mentally tired I could read no more, and put a movie on my VLC media players, I knew I had faced what’s at the core of what I do and have felt from late last September when I knew he had decided dying quickly was the only “best” or (scarcely) endurable option left to him. (Cancer, folks.)
Grief is a euphemism, like “process” and “journey.” As a term, “grief” is not as bad as these cant terms as they imply a narrative and narratives by the nature of their coherence offer meaning and if they come to some end, a closure. More codifications of social pretending.
Anguish, tearing anguish is at the core of me. It’s so strong if I keep thinking about it, it seems to fill my body. I feel like I am going to burst with it. Then there’s bewilderment: I can scarcely believe he’s gone, that it all happened. (I include the whole horrible cancer experience which I shared with my beloved though I could not begin to realize and to feel what he did.) Some bad dream I awake from and don’t believe in only he’s not here. Absent. And I am held fast. He’s gone. All he was, all he made of life for us. I find myself wondering why I can process thoughts, enjoy this or that music or book and he’s not here. How can it be my brain is going and his is not. Recognition of this central core of what it is to be a widow explains to me all I am doing, why I do it, which just about everyone I talk to says “are the right things.” Why do they say this? And so swiftly and repetitively, all agreed. Strange this agreement. It’s implied these acts are good in and of themselves. Are they? They are the social life available to a person like me. Jim used to say it was so hard to get people to take anything seriously (that much American social life is dysfunctional). They are. more truly. routes of escape, temporary alleviation. This morning I was bleakly sad and lay in bed, with ClaryCat having tucked herself between my right shoulder and arm, until after 7 as then autumn light had come into the room.
What happens after a time is the widow or widower gets used to enduring this.
I wrote a paper last week, “The Depiction of Widows and Widowers in Austen’s Novels and Letters.” After I’ve delivered it at the EC/ASECS conference I will somehow get it up onto the Net and connect it to this blog. If anyone would like to see or to read it sooner, let me know and I could send it on. Austen is deeply antipathetic to the approach I take in this blog and yet writes out of a full awareness of it too, so they will eventually (when I put the paper online somehow or other) form two contrasting diptychs.
Both, this blog and that paper, are intended directly for others whose beloved partner has died and would like to break through the taboos and have acknowledged what they experience. I write for others like myself.
Andrew Davies’s Edward (spoken by Dan Steevens) in the 2008 Sense and Sensibility, speaking of his father’s death to Elinor (Hattie Morahan):
I was like a boat without its anchor; we must all have some one to listen to us, to understand what we feel.
So often Andrew Davies (for me) “corrects” Austen out of her own text viscerally and to the central searing point.
Dizzy, still from the nightly sleeping pill.