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.
grief grabs us at unexpected moments and wrings us dry, once again. A friend who walks with us and continues to see the blessings in our life is a rare treasure. You are such a friend dear Amy.
Well, Joss, it’s pretty easy befriending a person who knows how to be a good friend. We both grew up in Alberta so have a healthy gratitude for virtue. She’s much better at it than me!
sounds truly lovely, this kind of friendship is a treasure indeed.
What a lovely post and your marion sounds like a wonderful woman. Such a load of grief for her, i bet she knows that grief never goes away, it just becomes manageable, imagine telling some-one they had grieved enough. How rude. Funny how we still carry our mothers voices around with us.. c
Rude and bordering on insensitivity, Celi, especially while still being blindsided by rogue feelings. And I’m so sorry for the recent sadness John and you’ve had to experience. Life is never going to let us rest for long!
An excellent title for this post…strange how some voices parallel our own experiences.
For sure, Charles, and even outside of the music world, I sure do have my favourites. There are some people I cannot be around – screechy and loud voices create immediate u-turns in my feet.
Your mum looks so beautiful x your sentence about having cleared out life’s clutter is brilliant and holds a deep well of truth.
I hope she’s paying attention and hearing your compliment, Heavenhappens. I don’t think any woman can hear that too often – and she had a tough time accepting praise.
An incredibly poignant post. I feel for your friend and I feel for you too being reminded so much of your mothers voice. It’s rather ridiculous for someone to suggest another has grieved too long since there’s no set period for doing so and we’re unable to force it upon ourselves. I still mourn the loss of my wife though it’s been 16 months now, or in my eyes Only 16 months.
xxx Massive Hugs xxx
Oh, David, I didn’t know you experienced your wife’s death – and so recently. I am so sorry – those relentless tides of emotion, rising and catching you off guard, will hopefully become tamer tsunamis. You’ve done so well to have been able to write. All this time, you’ve been sending so many of us your warm and caring hugs while, I’m sure, that’s exactly what you needed, too.
Hi Amy – wonderfully written and how often our own grief is miniscule compared to others’ lives – I feel for Marion … grief is as long as it is … and it will always be …
Mother’s voices … I can hear my mother’s now … I was lucky that we could share til her end … with many thoughts – Hilary
Hilary, you, too, had a dynamic mom whose presence permeated far more than a family’s heart. How fortunate we are to have memories holding so much respect for our mothers. I feel much compassion for anyone having to grow up with anything less.
Yes, I hope Marion discovers this post and sees the support of my fabulous readers. As much as she knows there is no “due date” on grief, there’s no waste in hearing it from others – far and wide. I hope she finds a brand of comfort she can slip into her memory for those times when she needs it.
That is a great story and what a strong woman your friend is. i know for me… the griefing would never stop. I would not know how to go on. But it is a blessing that she has found the strength. Smooches and love to you both.
Thank you Jessabell. Yes, Marion has an inner strength that surpasses my imagination. That’s why I see the unwavering love she demonstrates in so many ways. In a message to me yesterday, she wrote a simple description of her husband, Michael, expressing such loving, gentle and deeply intimate memories. She hesitates over her writing skills, yet she presented such a unique “mike-ism”, the verbal picture is now firmly ensconced in my memory.
I often ponder the unfairness of how the chips fall. It seems so folks are handed a lifetime’s batch of bad chips and I marvel at how many of those individuals rise above the difficulties and forge ahead, boldly into the future. They seem to have bottomless strength. But I venture to guess that inside, they rarely recognize their power.
Your mom looks bright-eyed and beautiful enough to live up to that lovely voice that penetrated your heart so gently and effectively.
Very well expressed, Linda. Marion has suddenly had so much to deal with – so many demands to meet – that I suspect she still hasn’t really been able to rise above the milieu to see all that she’s accomplished. I know every danged home maintenance success has been appreciated!
Although mom never spoke again after her stroke, the hospital staff who took such good care of her picked up on her energy and would rave about her as though mother was still capable of penetrating their soul with her words. I learned a lot about presence during her six (!) years of ECU.
Maybe your mom was talking. You did hear her. The universe works in just the ways we need, but not always in ways we understand. Right?
Lorna! Your visit feels like a family member dropped in for tea. I’ve been so immersed in life that my blog reading is an embarrassment. I’m going now to see what you’ve been up to, but first, in response to your comment – yes, I have thought about that many times. It was like a reminder that death is only a veil – no soul goes anywhere. Then, that sureness slithers away until I suddenly smell her talcum powder.
They seem to have a way of gently reminding you that you are never alone in this world, don’t they?
What a beautifully worded post! Your words alleviate the pain but draw the tears out…they exude love though, an unfathomable love for those who can never go out of our hearts even when they are physically away, looking at us, keeping a watch in some strange, incredible ways. Love your thoughts, Amy! They pulled at the strings of my heart.
I’m grateful to have matured into an understanding of having our loved ones present. There’s been so many different ways in which that has been made evident to me. Odd how it’s a concept that so many balk over. Yet those same people bow religiously to a dictator called time – even let it manage their lives.
My Heart..my heart.
fluttering. holding my breath. tears.
Love & Understanding from Minnesota.
And I know how big and sincere that heart is, Kim!
Marion is one of those lovely souls I so admire – who is carrying more than her share of grief. I dont think a person could live long enough to work through that amount of grief. I love that you mention the qualities of her voice – do tell her. And how touching, hearing a voice just like your mother’s in the art gallery, walking away to hide your tears so as not to dampen their delight. Sigh. Such a beautiful post, Elizabeth. Somehow I missed it last week, glad I found it tonight.
Thank you for one very beautiful comment, Sherry. I sure hope Marion comes back here and sees what you wrote. You are a sweet soul!
Except I got the name wrong. Not Elizabeth! So sorry! A very beautiful post.
Beautiful post, how wonderful that you are friends. Your friend must have great inner strength.
Yes, Dee, she has an incredible inner strength. There are times when it seems she doesn’t believe it. However, her strength is like microfibers…it’s soft, it bends, twist and folds, but in the end has been unbreakable.