magnificent book about love + grief
I am a blind woman recalling colour, I am the amputee who still believes
that she can feel each shin. All that yearning! I was gutted: I longed
for him to exist not only so that he could guide me, but so that I could
love and be in turn loved by him. Forgetful wish.
My father had always been that place to which I could return.
I sought his voice in silence, chased his shadow through the dawn.
Mourners depend on such implausibility for sustenance. It was a case
of separating smoke from air and air from smoke: circular endeavours
designed only to lead me to myself. Anything to distract me from the
truth. My intellect reconstructed him but the experience was lost and
so I valiantly incorporated that loss into my reconstruction - again,
When my fabled stepfather gripped my throat and smilingly tried to
choke me, all I could think of as I kicked and struggled was my father.
There is such sorrow in knowing that he will never see me as a woman.
There is such sorrow in knowing that he will never again share my life.
There is a world of sorrow in relinquishing such love. Grief is a sphere.
from The Pure Weight of the Heart, by Antonella Gambotto-Burke
mom's last laugh
by Robin Lee Shope
Consumed by my loss, I didn't notice the hardness of the pew where I
sat. I was at the funeral of my dearest friend, my mother. She finally
had lost her long battle with cancer. The
hurt was so intense, I found it heard to breathe at times.
Always supportive, Mother clapped loudest at my school plays, held a
box of tissues while listening to my first heartbreak, comforted me
at my father's death, encouraged me in college, and prayed for me my
When Mother's illness was diagnosed, my sister had a new baby and my
brother had recently married. so it fell to me, the twenty-seven-year
old middle child without entanglements, to take care of her. I counted
it an honor. "What now Lord?" I asked sitting in church.
My life stretched out before me like an empty
My brother sat stoically with his face toward the cross while clutching
his wife's hand. My sister sat slumped against her husband's shoulder,
his arms around her as she cradled their child. All so deeply grieving,
no one noticed I sat alone. My place had been with our mother, preparing
her meals, helping her walk, taking her to the doctor, seeing to her
medication, reading the Bible together. Now she was with the Lord.
My work was finished, and I was alone.
I heard a door open and slam shut at the back of the church. Quick footsteps
hurried along the carpeted floor. An exasperated young man looked around
briefly and then sat next to me. He folded his hands and placed them
on his lap. His eyes were brimming with tears. He began to sniffle.
"I'm late," he explained though no explanation was necessary.
After several eulogies, he leaned over and commented, "Why do they keep
calling Mary by the name of 'Margaret?"
"Because that was her name, Margaret. Never Mary. No one called her
Mary," I whispered.
I wondered why this person couldn't have sat on the other side of the
church. He interrupted my grieving with his tears and fidgeting. Who
was this stranger anyway?
"No, that isn't correct," he insisted, as several people glanced over
at us whispering, "Her name is Mary, Mary Peters."
"That isn't who that is."
"Isn't this the Lutheran church?"
"No, the Lutheran church is across the street."
"Oh." "I believe you're at the wrong funeral, Sir."
The solemnity of the occasion mixed with the realization of the man's
mistake bubbled up inside me and came out as laughter. I cupped my hands
over my face, hoping it would be interpreted as sobs. The creaking pew
gave me away. Sharp looks from other mourners only made the situation
seem more hilarious. I peeked at the bewildered, misguided man seated
beside me. He was laughing, too, as he glanced around, deciding it was
too late for an uneventful exit. I imagined Mother
laughing. At the final "Amen," we darted out a door and into the
"I do believe we'll be the talk of the town," he smiled.
He said his name was Rick and since he had missed his aunt's funeral,
asked me out for a cup of coffee. That afternoon began a lifelong journey
for me with this man who attended the wrong funeral, but was in the
A year after our meeting, we were married at a country church where
he was the assistant pastor. This time we both arrived at the same church,
right on time. In my time of sorrow, God gave me laughter. In place
of loneliness, God gave me love. This past June we celebrated our twenty-third
Whenever anyone asks us how we met, Rick tells them, "Her mother and
my Aunt Mary introduced us."
© 2001 Chicken
Soup Enterprises, Inc.