My grandmother passed away recently. Although I was expecting the news, when they came that late winter afternoon, something stirred in my heart – something I was not prepared to face. Leaving the phone on the coffee table, I entered the back room and closed the door behind me. Grief, deep and rich with pain, rushed through my body. It engulfed me, dragging me to depths from which no escape seemed possible.
As the sobs shook my body, that part of me wondered why is it that the expected death of my old grandmother had such an effect on me. Helpless to stop the flood of emotions, I let it take me. Deeper and deeper I went, under great waves of tears that should`ve been shed long ago. In the midst of the storm, I sensed something. I was well familiar with that little gentle nudge and, although in deep emotional pain, I paid attention to it.
I shook my head in disbelief.
Write from your pain…
Tears rolling down my face, I sat on in front of the computer. Slowly, and somewhat shyly, he poem unfolded on the screen before me.
Grandma, was what I called it, for it was my grandmother whom I wanted to lament in it. Her name and the sorrow from my loss covered the first lines – black, soulless symbols on a white, cold sheet. Outside, the rain fell, each drop confirming the news that all is lost and all will be lost one day. Pain…for my grandmother I believed, stabbed at my soul as I looked through the window.
To my astonishment, however, I soon began to notice that, although the verses at first revolved around my grandmother, it was other things they began to speak of. The house, in which once life bloomed, where my grandfather`s laughter echoed from the barn as he was bringing his donkey in for the night. Their flowers. Their chickens. The dog and the many cats, indeed, a whole furry army of them, jumping on my grandmother`s lap as she fed them, sitting on her chair under the vine. The bleating of the sheep when they came in from pasture every evening. The deafening noise of the old giant monster, the heavy, powerful motorcycle that belonged to my grandfather, which terrified and fascinated me at the same time. The sound of the television inside the warm, cosy house. Sounds from an age, which had long ago departed down the vast corridors of eternity. On that day, the last survivor from that age had finally followed it onto the unseen path, opening the door of pain which had long been collecting inside my soul. My whole life, in fact.
I stared at the screen in disbelief. A poem that had begun as a lament for my grandmother, had turned into something in which she did not play the main role. As the words spread down the white space like black seeds, scattered by a sower, her name was seen less and less. It was replaced by my own name, and the story of a lost old woman, became the story of my lost childhood. It was that, which I lamented, that which I wept over, seeing my grandmother – that last link between me and the old times, vanish from the world.
Grief, just like any kind of emotional pain, can be, and often is, misdirected. And although it should and it must be expressed, if we really want to be wholehearted, if we are to live from the heart, with a full heart, we must be in touch with our deepest selves. Yes, even if they are deeply buried, stranded in a place where they had once first felt the love, from others and for life itself, which is so vital if life is to be lived in its fulness.
Grief can open old, secret doors…
In the pain, redemption hides.