May 9, 2004
Passage of the Moment
I object when people, especially therapists, talk about "resolving grief," as if grief could ever be so compliant. We humans don't "resolve" grief; we live with it. The pain of our losses recedes, over time, and we get on with our lives. But periodically one may well find the chill hand on the heart--what we miss, our mortality--its sudden grip like a sharp intake of breath. It is important for us to recall in such moments that we still remain. Grief washes over us and we are left standing. It's okay. Nothing's wrong. It's just a natural part of things. Dead leaves underfoot. A clear autumn evening, the black sky like a vault, the vapor of our own breath in the air, a surprise. "Oh," we say. "It will be winter again soon. It's grown dark so early." And we burrow deep into our clothes for a moment, glad to be heading home.
--Terrence Real, "How Can I Get Through To You". It's mostly a book on couples' communication. I plan to read it as kind of an autopsy for what Mo and I had, and to try to do better next time...I think for a long time I've confused having almost no sense of privacy with having a well-developed sense of intimacy, and maybe that's not the case. I think I tended to clam up about some things, how I felt about Mo (I tend to see saying I Love You as kind of a manipulative thing; you show love by your actions, the words can be faked) and when things were bad at work (I didn't want to rub her face in the way how, other than being vaguely supportive, she was helpless to make that situation better.)
So I'm a little worried that, because I really do believe in the power of people to make deliberate changes in their lives (even though it often doesn't take 100%, complete turnarounds are rare) I'm going to read this book, see so much of what Mo and I went through analyzed and given roadmaps to workthrough, that it's going to be really frustrating...a big "if only" game, "if only she had expressed how she saw the problem in English."
Interesting to note the similarities between this passage and this bit from Garrison Keillor's "Mr. Blue" column.