Today I did not go to Mass although it is the first Sunday of Lent. I didn’t feel like it. All those people. Instead, I let my wife sleep and sat downstairs with the dogs, one of which slept under a towel I put on him to keep him warm. I happily failed in my usual 16-hour fast by having 80 calories of a mini-Milky Way with my first cup of coffee. Instead of spending time with the scriptural readings for the day I read a book of poetry with phrases like:
“Then you can lift the sadness from what I’ve touched.” and
“I held the slight weight of absence in my palm before I scattered it under the wild dogwood, then brushed ash from my fingertips. The trees were blooming lavishly that year.” and
“Each day I wake, unsurprised at your absence. It is the gray sweater, soft as a rabbit, I pull on against the chill.”
Poetry is another type of scripture, connecting my grief quietly to others. Mine is not a loud, wailing grief, but one of noticing the absence of a little hand holding mine or forgetting that only the dogs will greet me with enthusiasm when I arrive home after work.
Later this morning I’ll shower and take my medicine, clear up the room across the hall from where my little one once slept, and take the dogs for a walk or two with my wife. And the poem that heads up this blog will go through my head like a favorite bible verse: “Your absence has gone through me/Like thread through a needle./Everything I do is stitched with its color.”
Note: The first three poetry quotes are from Kathleen McGookey’s “Instructions for My Imposter” which I’ll review soon on my book blog. All her work is worth reading. The final poem noted is “Separation” by W.S. Merwin.