Sunday, December 9, 2012


It's strange how being sick while trying to grasp the permanence of a loved one's death leaves you feeling like you will be sick for the rest of your earthly life. In the haze of the achy weakness that entangled me yesterday (after getting the stomach flu the night before), I caught myself almost consciously thinking this. Today, as should be expected, I have mostly recovered. I don't feel relieved about this. I'm not disappointed either. It seems like too small a thing to be concerned with.

I feel ever so very tired. As I try to remember the last few days, I can feel a restrained resistance rising up in me. I say restrained because I feel like it would be wild and desperate and nearly crazy if it weren't held back by my better sense and my love for all my family members and my Grampie. Remembering is good because of them, but still, it's like walking into Kansas wind. Difficult.

I saw his body (his shell, my grandma called it) on Thursday afternoon. The movement of the tears pooled in my eyes made it look like he was breathing. Or maybe, some part of my mind couldn't cope with seeing that face and those hands without any sign of life in them. Perhaps, it created a perceptual distortion to try to override reality. It was incredibly surreal.
Surreal is one of my favorite words and one of my least favorite. The dictionary defines surreal as 'having the disorienting, hallucinatory quality of a dream,' but if prefixes have any real meaning, the definition should literally be 'above reality' or 'with something in addition to reality.' It is more than reality. It is strong elements of reality mixed with strong elements of dreams or wishes or falsities. This sometimes results in a pleasant, magical kind of experience and often results in the uncomfortable disorientation you would expect when what you know is real is being countered by what you think might be a dream or a hope. I tend to experience surreal as magic: strange, exciting, and enchanting. I tend to like hopes and dreams better than reality, without being wholly given over to them, so it is kind of delightful when real and better-than-real are mixed in together. The combination creates both 'above reality' and 'in addition to reality.'
Seeing him (without him) was obviously the disorienting, intensely unsettling kind of surreal experience. It took me most of the time that we were there that afternoon to see the stillness in his shell and to recognize that my real hope was not that he was just sleeping, but that he is in glory with my dear, sweet King Jesus. I love my Jesus as my Hope. I am so deeply jealous of Grampie - that he gets to be with Father and Jesus, so close to them. At the same time, my heart is uplifted, rejoicing that my Jesus gets to be with his beloved Glenn. This joy is not the joy that happens to you when something nice occurs or the joy that you muster up for others when something nice occurs for them. It is a full-grown joy put inside of me.
(Okay, I know probably two or less people will read this, but I still feel the need to insert this disclaimer: I don't know if we go to be with Jesus immediately after we die or not. That seems sort of hazy. I do kind of feel though, vaguely and without any scriptural back up, that time is less important once we die, so somehow, everything I've said basically works in my mind).
It seems sort of contradictory to continue to talk about grief now that I've talked about joy, but feeling something positive in connection with someone's death doesn't dissolve the grief - all the sadness and confusion and frustration and heaviness of losing them and missing them, temporarily or not. So I continue.

I keep oscillating between the knowledge of reality and something that must be denial. I know that he's gone, but most of the time, I'm not ready to believe that he's gone. I want to believe that he's still in hospital, and he'll get better and come home soon. But I can't believe that anymore. I'm not allowed to. Sanity and Reality and Death have teamed up and deemed it so.
And so, I swing. I teeter-totter, up and down, and swing, back and forth between accepting reality and hating it. Half my life is unsettlingly surreal - shooting up towards the sky on the see-saw or curving backward on the swing. I've always found those sensations, those movements, disorienting and abnormal. I just want to leave the playground and go home.

I can't believe it hasn't even been a week since I held his hand. It's been so long.

1 comment:

  1. I suppose, in a way, being in an earthly body is a sickness. All my life before has been a sickness, and it will never leave me. Not in a way that makes me regret life, but one that makes me long for the life that is in Heaven.

    I read the disclaimer, FYI. I think putting it in a different tab stop makes it feel so much more important, like, there are some things that Jesus just works out on his own, without telling us. Will we immediately be in Heaven? We won't know until we make that journey. But I do know that they said CS Lewis saw Heaven from his deathbed. And we know that those who follow Christ will be with Him for Eternity. Eternity doesn't have a beginning, nor does it have an end.