I’ve had Madeleine L’Engle’s Two-Part Invention, The Story of a Marriage, on my bookshelf for years. I love her Crosswicks Journals series and could identify with so much of it; despite the differences in our lives, we were both writers and mothers. It was very painful for me to read this particular book in her series, as she chronicled the journey of her husband’s death. I remember crying as I read it; how could she stand to watch her beloved in pain? I’d seen David’s desperate pain after his cancer surgery in 2006. I’d prayed never to have to see that again. I can be thankful, then, that David died in a peaceful way, sitting in his recliner with the television on.
My body shook with sobs as I read of L’Engle’s grief after her husband’s death. David found me that way and asked why I was crying. “Her husband just died,” I managed to say before sobbing again. I could only imagine then, but imagining is a way to prepare ourselves for the inevitable. Since David’s death, I see my own grief reflected beautifully in the eyes of my sisters and close friends, and my heart aches for them, too.
“Now I am setting out into the unknown. It will take me a long while to work through the grief. There are no shortcuts; it has to be gone through.” (Two-Part Invention, page 228)
“But grief still has to be worked through. It is like walking through water. Sometimes there are little waves lapping about my feet. Sometimes there is an enormous breaker that knocks me down. Sometimes there is a sudden and fierce squall. But I know that many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.”
We are not good about admitting grief, we Americans. It is embarrassing. We turn away, afraid that it might happen to us. But it is part of life, and it has to be gone through.” (page 229)
“When I married I opened myself to the possibility of great joy and great pain and I have known both. Hugh’s death is like an amputation. But would I be willing to protect myself by having rejected marriage? By having rejected love? No. I wouldn’t have missed a minute of it, not any of it.” (page 231)