A good friend’s mother died recently, and I offer this excerpt, realizing that its details do not necessarily match his individual experience. The author powerfully captures a feeling that I wanted to share with him and others.
She died calmly; and her countenance expressed affection even in death. I need not describe the feelings of those whose dearest ties are rent by that most irreparable evil, the void that presents itself to the soul, and the despair that is exhibited on the countenance. It is so long before the mind can persuade itself that she, whom we saw every day, and whose very existence appeared a part of our own, can have departed for ever–that the brightness of a beloved eye can have been extinguished, and the sound of a voice so familiar, and dear to the ear, can be hushed, never more to be heard. These are the reflections of the first days; but when the lapse of time proves the reality of the evil, then the actual bitterness of grief commences. Yet from whom has not that rude hand rent away some dear connexions; and why should I describe a sorrow that all have felt, and must feel? The time at length arrives, when grief is rather an indulgence than a necessity; and the smile that plays upon the lips, although it may be deemed a sacrilege, is not banished. My mother was dead, but we had still duties which we ought to perform; we must continue our course with the rest, and learn to think ourselves fortunate, whilst one remains whom the spoiler has not seized.
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, Vol.1 Ch.2
Mary Shelley understands the wrenching wrought by the death of someone we love. I wanted my friend to see her paragraph, and to know that it helps me absorb some of the grief he and his family feel.
Lastly, in our backyard yesterday morning, I turned on the sprinkler. Before it had made one full rotation, numerous birds flocked to the bushes being watered. Their near-instanteous flight to the site reminds me of how thirsty we are for loving relationships. Those relationships, which death alters without removing, are spiritual water. They supply the well from which we daily drink.