Why I Love NPR

Friday, September 5, 2014

The only thing I don’t like about my short commute these days is that I have less time to listen to NPR.  When I was in my car for 2 hours every day, I at least had NPR to keep me company.  I won’t pretend to have enjoyed the pieces that focused on world events, although I did learn a lot.  My favorite stories have always been the ones about regular people, especially if they involved humor.  This morning, there was no humor in what I heard, but it was like being wrapped in a comforting quilt and being given a gift.  A gift of understanding.

Edward Hirsch wrote a 78-page poem about losing his young son.  The work is titled Gabriel.  The author read several excerpts, and it’s clear the man understands grief. He also discussed the nature of time when he said:

There is no right way to grieve, and you have to let people grieve in the way that they can. One of the things that happens to everyone who is grief-stricken, who has lost someone, is there comes a time when everyone else just wants you to get over it, but of course you don’t get over it. You get stronger; you try and live on; you endure; you change; but you don’t get over it. You carry it with you.

I have lost loved ones to cancer, heart attacks, and tragedy in my lifetime.  But, I will admit that the worst period of mourning I’ve experienced is the one I’m currently walking through.  It’s not about the loss of someone who died, but it’s about the loss of someone from my life that I didn’t want to lose and wasn’t ready to lose.  It also involves the loss of a community, which I’m also grieving.  I have friends who have listened and loved me through it, and they continue to do so.  But I know there are also people who are probably thinking, “When will she get over it?”  And, I’ve had at least one person actually tell me I should be.

But, I’m not.

The following is an excerpt from the elegy that particularly touched me.  It made me feel like I’m not crazy for still feeling like I do, even though my loss is not what people typically think of when they think of grief and mourning.  So be it.  This is my path and I know what it looks like and feels like.

I did not know the work of mourning
Is like carrying a bag of cement
Up a mountain at night

The mountaintop is not in sight
Because there is no mountaintop
Poor Sisyphus grief

I did not know I would struggle
Through a ragged underbrush
Without an upward path

Because there is no path
There is only a blunt rock
With a river to fall into

And Time with its medieval chambers
Time with its jagged edges
And blunt instruments

I did not know the work of mourning
Is a labor in the dark
We carry inside ourselves

Though sometimes when I sleep
I’m with him again
And then I wake

Poor Sisyphus grief
I’m not ready for your heaviness
That’s cemented to my body

Look closely and you will see
Almost everyone carrying bags of cement
On their shoulders

That’s why it takes courage
To get out of bed in the morning
And climb into the day

– from Gabriel by Edward Hirsch



It’s amazing how much progress can be made when you enjoy what you’re doing. I’m speaking about crochet, but I guess it does apply to other things in life as well.

Through round 29 of 49! So far, so good!



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