Gratitude Sunday: Sorrowful Summers

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “Can I see another’s woe, and not be in sorrow too? Can I see another’s grief, and not seek for kind relief?” William Blake

Sunday Haiku
Nature’s morning breath,
sweet mown hay, rich cow manure,
dew drops, day’s promise.

Sunday Musings
How is it we still grieve so many years after a person is gone? How is it we grieve for people we did not know? Why do we grieve for celebrities whom we never met but who touched our lives nonetheless? How do we still go through the motions of life and get through each day after losing someone? How is it we forget or ignore that every single one of us carries this burden of loss, each in our own way?

This week marks 45 years since the death of a young man I was going to marry. He had his challenges, was still fighting them, and he’d already been through hell and back before we even met. He was born in California, a victim of birth defects I suspect were caused by nuclear fallout from the Nevada testing (I suspect this because I met another man his same age born in the same area who had the same birth defects, though all this information is tightly covered up, I searched). In the family dynamic his father blamed my young man’s mother (aged gravida) for the defective child and it didn’t ever get any better than that. Nevertheless, he was well on his way to becoming a musician, artist, and poet. He carried many sorrows including the suicide death of his first wife. He was 24 when his challenges took him as I spent the first weeks of July watching him get sick and succumb to the brain abscess infecting him. Who knows what a delight (or not) his life might have been had he lived. He may be resting in peace, but I carry a hole in my heart for the loss of this young man and what might have been.

I don’t regret my life since his loss, but summers are hard on me, they seem so full of loss. Sorrow puts a damper on summer fun. After losing my young man in 1973, it feels like I’ve lost so many people in the summer. Dad and my maternal grandmother in May; then years apart Mom and her brother in June. I don’t remember what day uncle passed, but the crimson clover was blooming in the fields. I violated a local farmer’s field on my route to see him and picked a handful for him; they filled his room with the fragrance of the clovered fields. Memory has made fuzzy edges around dates in my life , but it doesn’t matter when they went, it matters that they did. It matters they were here with us.

I cry for John Lennon and George Harrison. I cry for David Bowie and Michael Jackson. I cry for Prince and Alan Rickman. I cry for Eleanor Roosevelt and Maya Angelou. I cry for Billie Holiday and Marilyn Monroe and Janis Joplin.

I cry for a cousin I barely knew who took her life when we were teens, and for my mother’s cousin who died of influenza and left four children. I cry for my other cousins’ abusive father who suffered from polio and its aftereffects. I cry for my cousin who died much too young from the devastation that is AIDS.

I cry for the miscarriages and the stillborn who never took a breath. Who knows what glories they might have brought us had life remained in them?

I cry for the people who succumbed to, or even caused, freaky accidents, and were gone in the blink of an eye. I cry for the 5 year old neighbor boy who many years ago died the day before Christmas Eve when he caught the tinder dry Christmas tree on fire while playing with grandpa’s lighter as his grandpa slept in the next room unaware. Grandpa escaped through his bedroom window with the boy’s older sister.

I cry for the ancestors I never met. I cry for my in-laws, as problematic as our relationship was. I cry for my hubster’s bio-mother and brother and aunts and uncles, gone already, gone too soon, whom we didn’t get to meet. I cry for my childhood girlfriend’s mom whom I grew up with. I cry for the lovely old lady who first paid me to do housework for her when I was 13. I cry for the loss of a college friend’s mom who struggled so long with mental health issues, but oh my, I learned so much from her about grace and beauty.

I cry for all four of my grandparents whom I was fortunate to know. I cry for my uncles, and aunts, for great-uncles and great-aunts who graced my life. I cry for cousins, first and seconds and thirds, once or twice or thrice removed.

I cry for the older lady friends I’ve always had in my life, starting with my young man’s mother who kept in touch with me after the death of her son until her own death years later. I’ve treasured these relationships with older women I wasn’t related to in any way other than friendship, women who told me their stories and sorrow and listened to mine in return.

I cry when I read obituaries, for people whose names I recognize, past classmates, or people I used to serve in the hairdressing industry, or served over the counter at my last place of employment. We didn’t have to be close. I still sorrow for them.

You may think I’m overly empathetic, but no matter what level of sensitivity you have we go on with sorrow because it is what we do. There is nothing else for it. We can’t die each time somebody else does. We rise each day without those people in our lives any more. We put one foot in front of the other. We brush our teeth and our hair and dress for work each day while carrying great big holes in our hearts. Like death itself, not one of us escapes sorrow and grief.

What would happen if, instead of asking the generic “How are you?” as a meeting or greeting, we asked the more specific “What is your sorrow?” After a few times we would find we all suffer loss and we all carry it with us. We do not forget our losses. We might forget our happy times, but we don’t ever forget our grief.

Grief is a personal affair. We hide it. We tamp it down, we only take it out to look at in private moments. It’s how we’ve been taught. Put on a smiling face. One day at a time. No one need know. It’s personal. Except every one of us, whether we acknowledge it or not, travel with some sort of mental health challenge like, maybe, grief, sadness, loneliness, or depression, and wonder why we have a tough time getting through the day. Some of us even over-compensate with false confidence or superiority behavior.

Would we find common ground? Would we learn how every one of us is broken with grief? Would we learn how hard it is to speak of sorrow? Would we learn how we’ve been taught and conditioned not to acknowledge the grief each of us carries, to not discuss sorrow in every day or polite company? Would we begin to see through our masks we wear against sorrow and learn how much alike we are because we all carry grief with us every day? Would we learn we are all connected? Would we learn all the children belong to all of us and we are all cousins in one way or another? Would we care?

I would not write a post like this if I did not care, if I did not live with grief and sorrow every day. I still care about the young man I lost 45 years ago who occasionally visits me in my dreams. He is still with me; the little Hummel lamp that sat on his childhood bedside table watches over me as I write. I care about his family who are out there somewhere, and I’ve lost connections with again. I care that every person I meet or greet carries a carefully buried burden of sorrow.

There isn’t anything we can do to bring those people back. There is much we can do to recognize the common thread between us who still live. There is much we can do to be kinder to each other as we all carry our sorrows. There is much we can do take care of each other while we are still here, and perhaps regret less when loss comes.

I leave you today with a poem. Insert any pronoun you wish for the one your heart misses.

Time Does Not Bring Relief

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year’s leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year’s bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go,—so with his memory they brim.
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, “There is no memory of him here!”
And so stand stricken, so remembering him.

Edna St. Vincent Millay, Collected Poems

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – A bright pink late blooming azalea. I don’t know what these little weed blossoms are called, but I love the pale beige sort of color and can you tell how soft and fuzzy they are? Love the deep burgundy of these heart shaped tree leaves. Nature always wins: in the battle of violet vs. aggregate, it’s the violet for the win. The bright brilliance of the pinky peachy orangey rose.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Bingeing season 2 of Dr Kildare (1961-1966, not rated TV series) I find a piece of history. The first 4 seasons of Dr Kildare were filmed in black and white, except for episode 2 of season 2, which was filmed in color. Originally aired on October 2, 1962, this color episode was part of a promotion called “Color Week” in which 7 popular TV shows were filmed in color to encourage people to buy color TVs, new technology at the time. Imagine the commercials enticing people to invest in the latest technology. This was back in the day when wealthy people and corporations paid their share of taxes, and average worker-consumers were making capitalism alive and well; many people were earning enough to support their families and buy consumer goods as well. If you did not own a color TV you saw the broadcast in black and white as usual. My family’s income was more on the lower middle class level, and we were grateful to have any TV at all. I did not see this in color when it originally aired in color; my family did not buy a color TV until after I moved out of the house in 1973. Because of the nature of the borrowing of this DVD series, I’m going to be living with Dr Kildare for the next few weeks. I don’t love the series enough to want to own it or dust it. In an odd way I am re-living a part of my growing years an hour at a time.

Currently ReadingThe Dark Angel (2018, fiction) by Elly Griffiths. Tenth in the series, it only takes a page or two to be right back in the world of British archeologist Ruth Galloway. We are in Italy for this archeological mystery. Only two problems with Ms Griffiths’ work: they are so engaging and the mystery is so intriguing they read too fast, and the author can’t produce another in the series soon enough for me. Editorial failure though as I’m 90 pages in and have already found 4 editing errors; I forgive 2 errors per book. * Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – And the Unexpected Solutions (2018, psychology, depression) by Johann Hari, author of Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs (2015, psychology of drug use) about addiction, its causes, and possible solutions. Mr Hari’s work is well researched and written in an engaging way most average readers can understand what he’s saying. He starts by documenting his own forays into the use of anti-depressants and why they didn’t remedy the depression, discusses how Big Pharmacy is selling a load of bullpuckey about the cause of depression and the efficacy of anti-depressants for the sake of profits, then goes on to explore the duality of depression and anxiety. Fascinating work so far.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Getting to spend some time with the hubster’s newly found bio-family, and getting to know them better.
  • Meeting hubster’s next oldest bio-sister, now he’s met all three of his sisters. He’s pretty happy. Exciting times.
  • A safe 4th of July.
  • The car still hanging in there.
  • Civil discourse while trying to learn more about some new people in my life.
  • Listening ears.
  • Understanding passion and how passionate speech can be off-putting.
  • Figuring out a technology transfer that had the hubster baffled. Not that it’s a competition, but THAT’S why I, the techno-ditz, learn to work the equipment I own, and why I read, keep, and re-read the manuals.
  • Being on babywatch waiting for my nephew and his wife to welcome their new daughter.
  • Tracking on three other babies expected this month.
  • Enjoying a variety of nail polish color after many years of going sans any body decoration.
  • Microwave hot packs for a back owie.
  • Finding a pre-paid phone card after thinking it got tossed and having gone through three tubs of garbage just in case I’d really thrown it out. I could not remember what I had done with it the day before. After all that, it was within arm’s reach. If my memory is going to start doing this kind of stuff thank goodness I thought at the outset to put the card in an easily accessible, clearly visible place.
  • Soap. And hot tap water. Nail brushes.
  • My startle reflexes which are still working excellently.
  • How time fades into the background when I write.
  • A fat juicy sweet mango with strawberries and mascarpone.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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This entry was posted in abundance, Aging, Family, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Nature, Photography, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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