I am a rock….

It was just a silly little children’s book. And it made me afraid. Very afraid. After my secretary, Sue, died suddenly two months ago, my pastor handed me the book, “Tear Soup.” She told me it may help me work through my grief.

I thanked her, and then set the book aside. For the next six weeks, I would look at it as I walked out the door in the morning. I’d glance at it when I walked back in in the evening. “Today I’ll read it,” I often told myself. But I didn’t.

My mom died very suddenly in 1984, and in the intervening 20+ years, I realized that I had never really grieved her loss. We had a troubled relationship, and had just recently reconciled–both of us treading lightly due to past hurts. Then she died of a brain aneurysm…..and she was gone from my life.

Other deaths followed. My best friend, Ann, to whom I owe the impetus to go to medical school. Deb, my young patient who died tragically from an aggressive cancer. Brandon, 16 years old and whose family are my patients and my friends. And then Sue.

It’s not that I can’t cry. That’s easy (my friends will nod knowingly…). But I never truly grieve. Those who are gone from my life… are just gone. The Simon and Garfunkel song, ” I Am A Rock” comes to mind. I am always stung by the lyrics. “Hiding in my room, safe within my womb. I touch no one and no one touches me.”

Well, today is All Saints Sunday–the day we celebrate the lives of those who have died. It seemed an appropriate time to read the book, and so yesterday I did so.

It was…..cute. Nicely illustrated, it is a nice approach to dealing with loss, especially when trying to explain such things to children. But it didn’t cause me pain, or lead me to wallow in sorrow. I read the fifty or so pages in 10 minutes, and set it aside.

My fear of the book had been unfounded. As in much of life, the fear of what we don’t know may paralyze us and keep us from those things which may help….to recover from grief, to face a challenge, or just to allow us to …..feel.