Grasping at life

‘I am not scared of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship’

Louisa May Alcott Little Women

This last weekend I celebrated my grandmas’s life at her memorial. It was, as you would expect complicated. There was sadness, laughter (at our retro hair and outfits in the photos displayed…but also some lovely stories), there was a lot of faith in the room-she had strong convictions about her ‘last move home’. I am happy she is at peace and not in pain, and ultimately grief is different when it’s for someone who embraced it so fully.

In reflecting on her life and our family, there is a mixture of feeling bound to one another-sharing our history and her legacy but also distance. For we have each experienced it slightly differently. The need to be close is so palpable and yet the gap seems vast and words don’t fill it.

Over Christmas another friend also died. She was not my best friend, life and coffee threw us together at various times and she showed me kindness and also the fiery love of life that I am like a moth to a flame with. She was young, and her children are still young. She was incredibly brave but she was not ready to die, how can you be when so much of life is still ahead?

Even though I knew her death was coming, I was still shocked when I heard. It’s jarring, too final and too unfair. What I saw in those last week’s was how much she was loved; her family and best friends were powerhouses of strength and she seemed to be reflecting that whenever we had contact. Although nothing can replace her, I was so aware that her children were held in these relationships she had crafted.

I think I have quoted this song before,but it is swirling around my head most days at the moment ‘you try and live and love, death comes and interrupts’ (Sara Groves)

It is in these winter months that grief can feel like you are underwater, a murky pond. That death doesn’t just feel inevitable but relentless…it marks our thoughts, our energy levels, limits our vocabulary and our interactions. No matter how brave we are in facing it, sometimes we can feel like we are in an endless swamp.

I keep writing ‘we’ but maybe I mean I. I don’t know what anyone else is feeling but I do know these feelings. This is not my first winter of grief. It doesn’t get easier, but its familiarity spurs me to one thing…and that is to grasp at life.

I don’t share all of my grandma’s beliefs, but I do believe in love being the most important thing. I believe that choosing love in the small, everyday moments is the most rebellious, hopeful, honouring thing we can do for those that have died.

I was given my grandma’s copy of Little Women this Christmas. She was given it by her elder sister in 1945 as a birthday present. It is one of my favourite novels. I love those fierce women, they way they dream, create, fight and love. Sometimes quietly and sometimes exuberantly, but always powerfully. And one thing that my grandma and my friend share, is that they were both strong fearless women-and I want to be like them!

So in grief, I will grasp at love and life. For it’s all I can do.

One thought on “Grasping at life

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