A woman friend, Marion, somehow lives through double-duty-grieving these days.
Just over four years ago, her gorgeous 22 year old daughter, her only child, was killed in a car accident in Seattle. Marion and her ex-husband agreed to having their daughter’s organs donated. While all organs below the neck were in perfect condition, their daughter’s brain was damaged beyond a continued life.
Then, early this year, Marion’s new husband of 9 years collapsed with a heart attack. Today would have been their 10th wedding anniversary.
Later today Marion will be on the plane heading to another province where she’ll immerse herself in the presence of her elderly mom.
I love Marion for a number of reasons. Her expansive heart holds a capacity for love that astounds me. She’s no fool which seems to have made even more room for love.
Maybe it’s because people who experience the most pain have cleared out most of life’s clutter and have inadvertently created extra room. Perhaps experiencing a divorce, the unfathomable loss of a child and the too-soon death of a new husband has given Marion an unwavering understanding of what’s important. She doesn’t seem to worry about who gets how much love – until someone mistakenly “suggests” she’s grieved long enough.
How the hell does anyone know what’s good for another human being? Most of the time, we have no idea what’s good for ourselves. Especially when the chips are down.
So today when Marion told me she was off to visit her mother, I said, “Awww…lucky you, Marion. I’d love to hear my mother’s voice calling my name again. Come to think of it, aren’t I blessed that every time she did call me, it was for something special or interesting or loving?”
Odd that I mentioned my mother’s voice in my response to Marion because I love Marion’s voice. I’ll have to tell her. In all the years I’ve known her, why have I never mentioned it?
She has an incredibly modulating voice. I marvel over its fruity tone; deep, strong and pleasant. Even during one of her dives into a fresh wave of grief, her voice keeps its strength. Even through tears, her pitch maintains its audible qualities – sounding effortless. Even when talking about her soul’s inability to face an organ recipient, offering to let Marion hear her daughter’s heartbeat, she keeps her alluring cadence. Her words flow in a sequence of sounds that draw, and keep, my attention and respect.
I have never struggled to listen to Marion.
It was the same with my mother.
No wonder I collapsed into a pool of tears a couple of years ago when I was looking at paintings in an art gallery. I heard a heart wrenching exchange:
“Hi Mom!”, said a surprised and obviously delighted daughter.
I heard my deceased mother’s modulating voice – it’s cadence and pitch rich with enthusiasm. Who was using my mother’s voice?! Who was singing the greeting reserved just for me?
I turned around to find an embrace of strangers. I tried to swallow down my disappointment. I walked it away instead. Tears did not match their brand of joy.