Saturday, March 03, 2012

Unanswerable Questions

"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves." - Rainer Maria Rilke

I don't feel like writing today, but I'm writing anyway because that's what writers do.

Last week a coworker of Ed's who was also a friend died. This week a friend of both of ours died. Good men they were. Middle aged. One 49 and the other 56. Gentle men who had a kind word for everyone and who often made both Ed and I smile. This dying business is not unusual, but I feel a deeper sadness about these deaths. I am altered by them.

I tried to think of something else to write about and it wasn't working. Then I remembered Natalie Goldberg's admonition to "go for the jugular." She used to tell us, when there was something we were trying to avoid, that we must write directly into it. If we did not, she said, the thing we wanted to push away would still be with us silently on the page nudging aside whatever else we tried to work on. And so I heed her command.

I just feel sad. There is the unanswerable question of why these men and not some others are gone. Men with children. Men with families. Men who lived good lives. Why them? And it raises more selfish questions about the closer loved ones I have lost. Why my niece? Why the young? Why anyone, really? And there is no answer. And so I will also take Rilke's suggestion and just try to love the question.

On my eight-mile run today I thought about these men and the many others who have died before them. And I felt the gratitude I have for my husband, our dog, our home, and the other family members and friends I am so honored to have in my life. And I summoned gratitude for the time I got to spend with the men who died so recently. And I felt the wind on my face and my legs moving beneath me and smelled the hint of spring in the air. I felt sadness mixed with joy and the strange blend of everything that makes a human life.

When I got home, I wrote it all down and I'm giving it to you because I don't know what else to say. This is what is real right now. This is what is here in front of me. And now it is yours. I offer it to you to do with as you wish, but I hope you will take a moment to write about what you love and what you have lost and about the unanswerable questions.

And if you feel moved to comment below and share some of these things from your life, I would love to hear about them. Just click the little "post a comment" link below.

12 comments:

Mary Schmertz said...

What an introduction (to me) to your blog. I'm sad for you, Nita, and at the same time grateful for your fine writing. I'll be back for future posts.

Terri said...

My reflections on your article prompted an immediate feeling, fear of death. The transition from being to not being is looming on the horizon but the day and time is an unknown. With more days behind me than ahead, I ponder what it will be like. Is this all there is? Did I spend enough time with those I care for and love? Have I made an impact and left a legacy?

I’m deeply touched by your writing today because yesterday I checked my Facebook page and was shocked to read that a first cousin died. After the initial reaction of sadness and tears, I was instantly sorry I hadn’t visited and communicated more often. I then wondered if as a society we have lost something along the way because finding out via social media seemed to lessen the value of life.

Your article was thought provoking and something I needed to read today to make sense of a death and my own mortality. Unfortunately, it leaves me with more questions than answers but that can be a positive thing too.

Renata said...

Found your blog through the interest tag "Buddhism"

A really touching post that so many of us out there can relate to.

Thanks, may you be well!

Anonymous said...

Today I did what was suggested and wrote. Just for a break from writing a critical response to a couple of 50 page articles. Mostly fears and questions and counteroffers to God. Thanks Nita

Miss N said...

Brilliant, heartbreaking, inspiring. Thank you for sharing a piece of your heart with us.

Steph said...

It is a difficult space to occupy. The guilt that rests between grief and gratitude. Some years ago my partner sustained injuries that left him in a wheelchair. We bonded through physical exertion. From mountain climbing to cycling and everything in-between. My grief of not sharing the joy of those activities with him was tempered by the sheer gratitude that he was still living. However, the guilt I felt over still having the use of my legs caused my beloved bike to rust in the snow and ice of an Ohio winter.Thank God those questions I asked were never answered. I treated the why's when's how...as if it were a multiple choice test. Today, my journey is not to find the answer, but to seek the questions.

Anonymous said...

Very touching my friend. I have often wondered the same questions as you. Why so many wonderful people suffer from cancer or other afflictions. We both lost young people from our life. Your niece, my nephew. Your parents, now my father. We can be sad, I guess we must but those that we have lost would want us to move ahead with life. We need to appreciate the one's left behind and live the best life we can offer up to this world. That is the best way to honor those that have gone before us. Be sad, but not for long. The world needs your smile and inspiration. -J

Anonymous said...

One of your best newsletter/blog entries. Shows you've been thinking. And writing. And doing writing practice. It made me smile. Until I got something in my eye. It might have been an eyelash or a piece of dust or a tear. I'm not saying. Anyway, just wanted you to know how much I appreciate your words and you. You inspired me then. You inspired me tonight. Dad gummit. I'm gonna write me some more! Later, my friend.--Sammi

B. WHITTINGTON said...

Wow, you touched me moved me with your words.
Beautifully said. Not one more word not one less was necessary. You encapsulated your sorrow and shared it with me. I have goosebumps and tears in my eyes.
For those I've lost, for those men, for all those you've lost. Really we humans are so much more connected than we like to think.
You opened a vein when you wrote this, something we all should do when we write.
Blessings and thanks for the eight mile run. I needed that! I feel better already. HEalthier.
Blessings, Barb

B. WHITTINGTON said...

PS
My book VADA FAITH is on Amazon Kindle for free Sunday March 4th if you are interested.
Then, you'll know what I write.

kjh said...

So well said and written. Live seems to be about how we deal with what we have to give up. Without spiritual help, I'd never make it through shock, sadness, grief, recovery. They are all hard work but must be done. All of us are here, I believe, to help each other with this most important work.

Sharon said...

Thank you Nita. Your comments touch me as well as the other posts. The simplicity and sincerity of the feelings are truly eloquent. They are like gifts to me. My husband and I have two huge families with lots of siblings and nieces/nephews. Just doing the math, we know we'll be attending one another's funerals in batches. Not to mention my own mortality nipping at my heels. Your words and the comments of others add beauty to this sad passing of good people.