Friday, May 11, 2007

Happy Birthday

Today is a particularly difficult and emotional day. It is what would have been, my brother, Adam’s 21st birthday. I would have taken him out for a Guinness. Well, he would have been away at school, so in reality, I would have called him to wish him a happy day, and then I would have called him the next day to hear all the dirty details of this significant birthday. Which, I imagine, would not have been so dirty, but more like, “We went to this pub and I met some girls, and then when I got really toasted and I sang every Irish ballad and drinking song I know. And have you heard of an Irish Car Bomb?!...One of the girls I met gave me her number. She goes to Catholic U. I think I am going to call her.” And that is what I am going tell myself he did.

I feel that I have been able to grieve properly. By that I mean I have been going through the healthy psychological process that helps one to move on. But, it has not been a year yet since the day he died and I expect there will be days like this. I do not want to even think what my parents are going through right now.

Psychological processes aside, I cannot imagine what the despair in the loss of a loved one would be like without faith. Yes, I am sure that for any normal individual one will recover from the loss whether there is belief in God, faith and hope. But, what a miserable time it would be. It was hard enough being faced by the death of my brother. It was great comfort to hear the priests say, “Life has not ended, only changed.” Knowing what a good person Adam was, I do not think that he was out of grace with God. I truly believe that God gave him a chance to prepare himself for coming into the light. I truly believe that when I say prayers that they are heard by a saint in heaven. Knowing that he is with our Creator, who created us out of His Love is a tremendous comfort. I learned that it is in our suffering that we are closest to God.

All year long I have been thinking about “A Grief Observed” by C.S. Lewis. (The best novelists are those who can observe life and translate it into words.) He described grief so well and how one might feel toward God and faith in this situation. I do not have a copy of this book at hand, so I cannot include any specific quotes. But, he described how when his wife died, he could not remember what she looked like accurately, because he had seen her so many times from so many angles that it was now all a blur--a combination of it all dancing in his head. The best way he could remember her was in a picture--still, from one angle--and that made him angriest of all. That is not the way he wanted to remember her.

Similarly to C.S. Lewis' experience: On the way home from Adam’s funeral, on the plane, I sat clutching a little white Bible with name monogrammed in silver on the cover, and in it I had stuffed several eulogies people in my family had written, the programs from the funeral, a prayer card that had Adam’s birth-death and a quote (Wisdom 1-6 & 9), a print out of eight of Adam’s poems, and a few pictures. Andrew and I had been doing Sodoku puzzles. We had finished one and were taking a break. I set the Bible down on the tray in front of me and a few things fell out. I could hardly bear to look at them. I was so mad at the sight and I began to crumble inside. I panicked and thought, “This is all I have left of him! These little scraps of paper, this is all I have to hold on to! I have my memories, but those fade and change. These are the only material things I have!” It was quite a moment of terror in my heart, the same as the Sunday morning my mother called and said, “Adam is missing.”

“Only the good die young.” That is so true. Adam was so amazing. He accomplished so much and had some very deep thoughts to pass along to us all. He was destined to be a great poet and a great diplomat. I am so grateful he took the time to write down his thoughts. He had such a unique and beautiful way of thinking. He is greatly missed.

Happy Birthday Adam!

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