My friend Melanie sends a message to say that she is in Cape Town for one day. We arrange to meet for dinner. She is well acquainted with death. After the death of her husband many years ago, she faced many deaths in her inner circle during the same year. We talk. We eat. We cry. We laugh. We don’t need to explain anything. There is unity and safety in shared suffering. She pours the last bit of wine into her glass after I declined, being the designated driver. When she put the bottle upside down into the icebox, I burst into tears. That was what you always did, my Beloved. I can find others with whom I can share symbolism and have a meaningful time of connection.
My friend Felicity has been my scaffolding when I threatened to collapse under the weight of your death. Someone I could be with, without words. Someone who would just hold me and allow me to cry. She knows that there are no words. Nothing that will make it better. When we meet for prayer and the worship music pains me, she would find gentle instrumental music that soothes my soul. She does not attempt ‘Christianese’ platitudes. She makes me a cup of tea. Her husband walks into the kitchen where we sit. He has read my blog and asks: “May I give you a one-minute hug?” I cry on his shoulder and the three of us acknowledge the reality that you will never give me a one-minute hug again, my Beloved. I can hug others and allow them to hug and comfort me.
My student Sandra comes to Cape Town for a month to focus on her studies in Emotional Logic. We work through the material of the introduction workshop together. I think aloud and run ahead. She tidies up after me, ordering the paperwork and lining up the pages as decided. She has the manuals printed, sorts out all the feeling cards and puts them in small plastic bags, ready to be couriered to the participants. She sends off book orders. She serves and supports me selflessly. We find a harmony in our giftings and learn how to flow together. When she drives in, I switch the kettle on and we start by having a cup of coffee outside on the stoep. We chat about our lives and how our challenges invite us to grow as humans. Our suffering is our shaping. After a training session, we have soup and bread. I will never enjoy a meal with you again, my Beloved. But I also do not have to eat alone.
My daughter Githa and I go out for lunch. We marvel at her baby, Lucy-Antoinette, practicing to sit on her own. She talks to me about our marriage symbolism, my Beloved. We used to say that I am the petrol and you are the brake. “You have lost your brake Mum. Who are you inviting to be your brake now that Daddy is dead?” It is a powerful question and a moment of truth for me. My word for the year was to ‘accelerate’. Your death has definitely broken my speed. I look at a video clip on how the brake system in a car works. There are so many different parts to it that must work in unison. When I stopped at the garage to put in petrol today, the attendant informed me that the brake fluid was finished. I bought a small bottle and he used only half and gave me the remainder to take home. Perhaps I should not put it away in the cupboard, but display it in a corner as a reminder to add brake fluid to my decision-making process to decelerate? In the 37 years that we were married, we made all our decisions jointly. That safety buffer of two thought processes, two different perspectives, voiced aloud, has been destroyed. When you broke my trust and decided on your own to end your life, it was a decision that hurt all of us so deeply. I have a new level of responsibility to seek human and Godly counsel to make wise decisions that will not affect my children adversely.
Your death left me alone, my Beloved. When you live with a partner, you have someone with whom you do life together: eat, talk, support, soundboard, problem solve, comfort, pray with, have fun, relax with and sleep with. When death comes to visit and your partner is taken, you are left without. Everything you do after that is without your mate. Without is a new balancing act. Without is overwhelming and fearful. Without might be my new reality for the rest of my life. Within me is a soul that yearns for connection. As I am learning how to do life without you, my Beloved, I need to look within myself and be conscious of what my soul needs. To relate is to have quality of life. I am comfortable in my own skin and being on my own. There are times when I need someone with skin on with whom I can interact. I can choose not to be lonely and invite companionship when I need it. It is my responsibility to reach out to others and fulfil my need for connection.
Proverbs 15:22 “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.” In the Passion translation it reads: “Your plans will fall apart right in front of you if you fail to get good advice. But if you first seek out multiple counselors, you’ll watch your plans succeed.” My God, you are the glue that keeps me together in my journey with grief. Psalm 73:24 says that with Your counsel, You will guide me and afterward receive me to glory. Thank you for the promise of Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” You are my brake and You will guide me with Your wisdom, also in the human counsel that I require, to be established in my new season. I am without a partner. My God is with me. I am alone. I choose not to be lonely.