“I could share her when she was alive. When she was alive, her presence was endless, time with her was endless, time was endless.
Once she was gone, every memory was suddenly precious, even the bad ones, even the times I was irritated with her, or she was irritated with me. Then it seemed a luxury to be irritated.
I did not want to share her, I did not want to hear a stranger say something about her, a minister in front of the congregation, or a friend of hers who would see her in a different way. To stay with her, in my mind, to remain with her, was not easy, since it was all in my mind, since she wasn’t really there, and for that, it had to be just the two of us, no one else.”
– Lydia Davis on the passing of her sister
Reading the above and this short part made me feel something a little like regret about how I managed the months after Amanda passed.
Between the viewing and the memorial months later, I tried my best to give everyone what they could have wanted to help them on their journey of grief we’d all been forced to take. It was not wholly selfless of me being that it was an undertaking I needed to not fall apart and drift aimlessly like so much flotsam. It was actually mostly selfish of me. And all throughout that time, there were people whose needs in their grief I neglected because I didn’t know them at all, and it felt like there was no time to acquaint ourselves. There were others I strong-armed through assuming I knew them all too well. In therapy I obsessed over what form(s) might someone’s grief take, and how can I best anticipate that to best assist them; a foolish and moot exercise to be sure, except the obsession was a dull hum working to somewhat ease my heart and mind.
I can’t exactly say I have regrets about how I handled that time; regrets seem expressly pointless. Now I could say I should have approached some things differently, but if I went back in time, then-me would still be trapped in the circumstances and limited perspective of then. Instead I am once again grateful I have read what I did. It’s helped me gain perspective and understanding that previously eluded me.
Some people like to say “everyday is a gift”; I tend to agree, but I don’t think it is so innately, in its own right. I like more the idea that as part of consistent and deliberate self-care, we give ourselves a gift each day to make that day memorable, to create its worth. Today was a gift because I chose to read, which is an activity I enjoy. And in reading I stumbled upon something rewarding and wonderful, how good is that?