Edward from the USA sent in this beautiful but heartbreaking letter and I wanted to share it with you all. It is so painfully true of the fractured state inhabited by those fresh to grief – the sense of shattering. I send you all my love and thoughts, Edward. Be strong. We are all with you. And thank you for Ellen Bass’s wonderful and clear-eyed poem. Love Susie. x
Thank you for the passage from ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’ in your recent post. My wife died suddenly, unexpectedly and in my arms on Christmas evening. I mourn her loss, our life and our future, which are now gone. The passage resonated in my heart and in something greater, maybe my ‘soul’. I can only read poetry, which seems like either a spell or a mantra, after her death. The narrative prose is incomprehensible to a shattered mind. So I send this to you.
The Thing Is
to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you down like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.
By Ellen Bass
Painting by Charles Sims