nolongerinbetween

bereavement ramblings # 4

Posted on: August 1, 2020

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After she died, for a month or two, I couldn’t look at her pictures. Every time I got a glimpse of her image, from the corner of my eye, it was so painful I thought my chest would explode. Then gradually that pain faded away and I was able to browse through the vast collection of pictures I took of her. I would look at her pictures and videos every night before going to bed with a sort of a religious zeal. Now again, in the last weeks, I find myself incapable of looking at her. The pain of seeing her photos is for some strange reasons once again unbearable. It exceeds the threshold of safety so if I get to see a photo of her somehow I instantly feel the urge to turn away and protect myself. Not that I can escape her image entirely. If I close my eyes, she is always there, in front of my eyes, like painted on my inner eyelids.

*

The thought that there’s nothing left of her, that I will never see her again and that I will never be reunited with her fills me with despair. What’s the point of everything if we cannot secure the most important thing in life? Yes, I am capable of moving on and, in spite of suffering for her loss, of still enjoying life. I can carry on living a good life like I did so far. I can carry on with my interests. I can even buy into the idea that we are here to better ourselves, to learn, to experience and fulfill our potential. I can even try to achieve things people are usually proud of – I could write books, I could set up a movement within the evangelical faith, I could start finding a way to activate the political animal in me and fight our deplorable governments etc. But what’s the point of all that if the only thing that matters is beyond our reach or given to us only for a short while?  We need immortality to validate our struggle. We need immortality to gain relevance. We need immortality to save anything we do from pettiness, no matter how great it is. I cannot do it like most people, in complete blindness, building castles in the air. What’s the point to take life seriously if our love cannot be saved? What’s the point of loving in the first place if I cannot take that love with me in eternity? What’s the point of being saved if I am separated from the ones I love? What’s the point of doing anything if our loved ones are doomed to destruction and nothingness?

*

Magical thinking comes in many shapes and forms. One way is the irrational belief that if you think of something bad it won’t happen. The fact of thinking of it in itself, of considering that terrible outcome will prevent it from happening. Usually when something bad happens to us we are saying “I never thought this could happen to me”. The hardship comes as a total surprise. So if I had thought it could happen to me maybe I would have been spared. The trick then is to anticipate and consider the hardship and so to keep it away. All this magical thinking takes place on a subconscious level. It runs under your conscious radar. You know it’s silly and irrational but that won’t stop you from hoping to alter the course of an event by mere thinking. As if it’s enough to expose and uncover a plot to soften the blow of surprise and spoil its power. As if since you think of it first the gods can no longer throw it at you.

It goes without saying that it doesn’t work. I was always scared that she would develop a cancer of some sort. My fears, my anticipation, my constant thinking of such a terrible outcome didn’t do the trick. It happened regardless. You would think that the ordeal of living in fear of something would be enough. That you won’t have to go through the real thing. But life rejects clear patterns.

By the same token, you might think that once cancer screwed your life one time it won’t happen again. You might think that lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place. That it would be highly unlikely, let alone cruel, to come across the C-word again in your life. But like I said, life doesn’t follow patterns consistently. Every time you think you discovered a pattern and a rule, life will break free and betray them. Magical thinking falls short again. Lightning does strike twice in the same spot. If you don’t believe me ask CS Lewis. His life was shattered to pieces when his mum died of cancer when he was nine years old. You would think that the trauma of losing the person he loved the most at such an early age due to cancer won’t strike again in the same way. Think again. Fifty years later cancer will shatter his life once more, taking away his beloved wife. The dice our gods use must be loaded and tampered with. No wonder it was only then when his faith got on the brink of erosion. When something hits you hard you are not shielded from a second blow. You would think that if you are already down you would be given a respite. But there’s no safe place from the cruelty of life, gods and people. When you are down and wounded expect nothing from mortals and immortals altogether. I should know better.

*

I feel like talking about her all the time. It’s as if the love for her is so overwhelming that it needs an outlet. This is one of the reasons I share my ramblings. I’m like an overflowing well that cannot be contained. I feel like stopping people on the street and tell them how beautiful she was and how blessed I was to have her in my life. I feel like cutting any discussion I have short and start talking about her instead. To hell with everything else. But I know it’s an impulse I need to control and that I cannot impose on people with personal things that cannot be easily passed on. In grief you go off to a solitary place that cannot be shared with everybody.

*

BoardingPass_MyNameOnMars2020 Tori

Today her name took off into outer space. Her name was written on a plate that will be carried hundreds of millions kilometres away from Earth. A seven month journey to Mars. I hope she will smile from beyond the stars seeing her name landed on the red planet. Maybe we are mere mortals, maybe we are just a speck of dust suspended in a sunbeam for a short while, maybe Keats is right and we are just “names written in the water“. If that is the case, her name on that plate on Mars will survive my death for a few hundred years as a mark in time, as a token of my endless love for her.

*

Even when I was close to God I have to admit that I never got to love Him more than I loved His creatures. Once in a while I came pretty close but never really went to the end with it. If jealousy would be one of His traits He would have all the reasons to strike me down. But I’m sure it’s not the case and He is pleased that at least I got to lose myself completely in the love for them. Maybe one day I will take the big leap. Half the journey is already done.

*

I was always pleased to learn that I share with CS Lewis this fascination with animals. When he was a kid he would spend most of his time in the Animal Land or Boxen, imaginary worlds he created with his brother, inhabited and run by adventurous odd creatures and fantastic talking animals. Since he was a kid until he died he was known as Jack. He hardly used his given name ever. Probably not too many would know or realize that he adopted the name of his dog Jacksie. When he was four years old his dog was killed by a car. He then took the name of his dog Jacksie and he would stubbornly answer to no other name. For the rest of his life. Talk about faithfulness.

*

When it comes to animals, mankind is split in two and is as polarized as ever. Half of humanity doesn’t understand the other half. Half of mankind would tell me bluntly “it’s just a cat” and that my grief is borderline pathological. Even on my side of humanity, the one that is into animals, some people see them as mere companions. They offer them shelter, food, protection and love. But they don’t see them as more than animals. It’s not that the bond they develop with them is somehow weaker. Not necessarily. It can be as strong as possible. But it matters though how you look at them. Taxonomy is important. I’m in a funny position since as a believer (albeit a terrible one) I had to reconcile evolutionism with creation so I ended up having a foot in both camps. I always had a sense of solidarity and brotherhood with them but in the last years it got deeper. To the point I can find humanity guilty of Specism. I do think we are a more evolved species as part of God’s plan but not that this entails we can rule over the other creatures. In this respect my belief and the Christian faith part ways. I could be accused of anthropomorphism, of attributing them humans traits and that I see in them more than I should. But I’m not sure that the criticism would hold. I don’t see them as people. It’s just that I could never ever escape the irrepressible thought, every time she looked at me, that there was SOMEONE in there. That behind those big eyes was not just a mere physical mechanism or a hollow shell. If we call that a person is open to debate. But that there’s somebody in there, in the same way my self is trapped in my body, I’m almost certain.

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The priest: Aren't you afraid of hell? J. Kerouac: No, no. I'm more concerned with heaven.

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literatura e efortul inepuizabil de a transforma viaţa în ceva real

The priest: Aren't you afraid of hell? J. Kerouac: No, no. I'm more concerned with heaven.

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