I am preparing to travel to the second of three funerals in just three weeks. There is only so much that the body and mind can handle. I am exhausted, grieving and overwhelmed with the work that piles up.
I look to words, written and spoken, for comfort. Today I am thinking about what the yoga instructor said to us in class yesterday: While your positions today might not be ideal, the body is rarely ideal. Listen to the body and respect it. Stay in the present.
Yes, I thought as my legs were tangled on the yoga mat, that sounds right. It is important to listen to the body. To be here. Today.
We communicate through our actions, touch and words. To me, the words are the most important part of the equation. We learn and clarify thoughts through the process of translating them into writing. We participate in a conversation beyond ourselves by writing, reading, learning and sharing, all the while being challenged by ourselves and others.
Never is this writing process more clear than when we are grieving. Writing allows understanding and preservation. After a loss, we have a heightened desire to save and collect memories, voices, and other moments that might otherwise vanish. We do that through words.
Many of us turn towards literature when we need answers. It has the possibility of illuminating the humanity and truth within us. In the closing lines of an untitled poem by Gregory Orr, I recognize the sentiment and am comforted by the precision of the message:
That, and the beloved’s clear instructions:
Turn me into song; sing me awake.
The ending of this poem is affirming. In fact, it is exactly what I meant to say. Orr offers the best words with which to express my emotion. I want to take the memories of those lost and turn them into song. The song that emerges will not only birth from a rhythm, perhaps starting with the heart beat and breath, but also the words themselves. Especially in these periods of deep grief, we cannot stay silent or stop communicating with others.
Elizabeth Bishop ends the poem One Art with the lines
(...) It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
Those who were lost to us do not need to stay lost. We have the choice to keep them here, in the present, with our words. Other artists might find the same comfort and possibility in other art forms. Nothing may not be ideal, or physical, but we can hold on. Together.
Let’s be present and together.
- Thinking of my great uncle, my grandmother-in-law and my dear friend’s mother