The rest of the family is in New Jersey, mourning the loss of Matt, 23, who died in a car crash last Friday. Matt was the son of my wife's sister, Molly and her husband Jim. I stayed at home so as not to be a burden.
My daughter called today to tell me about the two wake sessions, the church service and the burial. My daughter was exhausted not just from the car rides she had taken out of Pennsylvania but mostly from the emotional strain of so much sorrow focused in such a large group.
And at one point, she said, her grandmother and my mother-in-law approached the open coffin and spoke to the corpse, saying in grief-stricken tones something like, "I would have done it for you."
What parent or grandparent would not feel the same? How gladly they would give up their lives that the children might live and flourish. How impossibly, incredibly wasteful, somehow, that the young should die while their elders did not. There is no rational expression for the feeling ... it's all been a tragic mistake somehow! Come back and let me go in your stead! This...is...all...wrong! Take me! Take me!
I have danced on the Champs Elysee.
I have held newborns in my arms.
I have helped to slaughter cattle.
I have saluted generals.
I have laughed till the tears rolled down my face.
I have fussed and fidgeted in spiritual life.
I have seen kindness and offered what I could.
I have run over a dog by accident.
I have been wracked and uplifted.
I have loved chocolate and people too.
I have learned to crack a bullwhip.
I have won a trophy at billiards.
I have written and rewritten.
I have been outraged.
I have been delighted.
I have learned to kiss a woman's hand.
I have seen pigs born in the middle of the night.
I have never learned to yodel well, but that's OK ... I tried.
I have ... I have ... I have... I have ... enough.
Take me! Take me!
The whole situation is like staring at a matte-black wall. No light reflects. No answers appear. No surcease is offered. Everything is just black-black-black... endlessly black.
There is no grief.
There is just grief.