Because I’m up early and the house is motionless and still…because the sun is still busy burning off the mist which hangs like sheer nylon draperies across the blue summer sky…because I feel the stirring of energy with which to write, after many days of sheltered silence…
Welcome to Sunday Salon.
“A human being can only hold so much, and grief occupies a large piece of real estate. When it arrives, grief abides by the laws of manifest destiny. Uninvited, but entitled, it takes up residence in every seen and unseen part of a person. Reading comprehension is only one of the many countries that grief defeats, oppresses, and occupies.” (Sing Them Home, Stephanie Kallos)
There is a bit of a joke in my family, a long standing wry comment, which goes something like this…”If Becca’s not reading, then she must be really sick.”
I might hold the book open before me, my eyes might suck up words like a powerful vacuum, but the meaning of those words, the import of them, becomes just so much detritus in my mind. At such times, my only comfort from books is the tactile sensation of holding them close to my breast, knowing they are at least near enough to fall into should I need a moment of escape from the real world, that one which is “too much with me.”
And the world has indeed been a force too much to be reckoned with these past weeks. For just as I was coming to terms with the sadness of my uncle’s death, along came another grief, one of a different nature, but a loss just the same. My husband lost his job last week – became a statistic in the ever increasing numbers of unemployed people in the great state of Michigan, the state which holds the dubious honor of the highest percentage of unemployed workers in the nation.
But, little by little, as with any grief, the human spirit tends to rise phoenix-like from the ashes, and plod forward. There are numerous literary hero’s and heroines reminding us of this truth…personally, I always call to mind the spirit of Scarlett O’Hara, that paragon of GRITS (Girls Raised in the South) strength. Who could imagine that the spoiled, immature young woman the reader meets in the first pages of Margaret Mitchell’s epic novel (Gone With the Wind) would emerge from the trials of war as a strong, defiant woman, hellbent on reshaping to her advantage whatever disaster the world throws her way.
So it is fitting that the reading I’ve been able to do during the past week concerned itself with emerging from grief, with re-making one’s life in the face of sorrow and change. Joanna Scott’s Follow Me, about a woman who continually re-invents herself following one personal disaster after another; and Beth Kephart’s Nothing But Ghosts, about a very young woman who emerges from the sorrow of her mother’s death to find new hope in life. It was good to meet these women, to have their experience in the back of my mind as I travel the days ahead looking for clues as to what my life will look like.
And it is good to feel the call of books once again, as I wend my way through the lives of the Jones family in Sing Them Home, a novel about (what else?) emerging from grief.
Certainly, my choice of reading matter begs a question….are we somehow magically, inevitably drawn to the books we need to read at certain times in our lives? Or do we “read into” whatever book we happen to take up a message that fits our circumstance? What do you think?