I had hoped to send out something cheerier on the 25th, the 2-month marker of Cynthia’s passing.
But my happier times are not yet here.
Driving into France for a 2-day seminar last Sunday, I started getting shooting pains above my right ear.
The seminar went well, but by Tuesday morning I had red welts all over the right side of my face, neck and shoulder, with swelling and discomfort.
I was driven straight to the dermatologist, who made room for me over her lunch hour; she immediately diagnosed shingles.
She has given me meds for it, which should start to lessen the effects by about Friday, and mostly cure it by Monday.
She told me that it’s caused by total exhaustion . . . which amazed me at first, because although I’d had less capacity, I still had the energy to do the things that bring me life, such as teaching, gardening, the kind of fellowship where you laugh a lot.
But I now realize that I had totally underestimated grief. I had thought my grieving was in the sudden moments of memory such as when I unfroze one of Cynthia’s banana breads for Andy and Ashley, then realized that aside from a few more jars of her jam made from my grapes, there will soon be nothing left here made by her hands. And the most intense moment, when I picked the first rose of June and brought it in with much joy . . . only to be thunderstruck with the realization that she was not there to share it with . . . and would never be back to share any of those kinds of moments with. (Although as she is presently enjoying the sublime roses of Heaven, we don’t have to be worried about her missing flowers.)
Alexis sent me a book on grief which put into words what has hit me so hard the past couple days: grief is a weight to carry. Just as I realized earlier that the love of God has its own massive density, grief has an ongoing weight which is heavier than what we feel physically. Grieving is not just those intense moments of memory which sweep over us and bring on the tears; grief is a weighty, ongoing burden which brings more and more fatigue, and then exhaustion. I realize now that my body knew I was grieving in ways that my mind did not perceive.
So now I will cancel more speaking commitments, and try to discipline myself to rest more.
In the meantime, I don’t like the shooting pains, nor the confusion in my thinking at times, nor being unable to keep commitments, nor being so weak, nor this weight on my soul.
But I am getting though this, stage by stage, by the Grace made available to me through your prayers.
Please pray that I’ll be able to let go of stressful things, even the good stress of things I like to do.
Thank you for understanding that I am totally incapable of responding to the hundreds of beautiful emails and cards you have sent.
Love to all,