Dear Family and Friends,
Before going to bed last night, I looked once more at the tender note Rowan wrote me this afternoon. But this time I realized I had forgotten to relate the best part, -- Rowan's excellent drawing on the other side of the "envelope" depicting a broadly smiling, bearded Francis.
This afternoon she had kept pointing out the drawing, waiting, it seemed, for a response. I had told her: "Oh, yes! Pepere has a beard, and he's really smiling." But it wasn't until last night that I realized I had failed to notice, ( maybe in the emotion of the moment,) the word Rowan had written near Francis' head, encircled in cartoon fashion:
"Hi !" with a clear exclamation point.
In her drawing Francis is saying "Hi !" He's communicating with a broad smile. It's the "Communion of the Saints," one dogma of the church I really appreciate!
Since that reminded me of the article in The New Yorker to which our friend Gloria drew my attention: "Good Grief, Is There A Better Way To Be Bereaved?" by Meghan O'Rourke (Feb 1, 2010) I dug it out then and there and copied this passage:
"Perhaps the most enduring psychiatric idea about grief,...is the idea that people need to 'let go' in order to move on; yet studies have shown that some mourners hold on to a relationship with the deceased with no notable ill effects. In China, mourners regularly speak to dead ancestors, and one study has shown that the bereaved there suffer less long-term distress than bereaved Americans do."
Gloria also sent me an article about Lydia Davis' writing which includes this powerful and pithy poem:
by Lydia Davis
Head tries to help heart.
Head tells heart how it is, again:
You will lose the ones you love. They will all go. But even the earth will go, someday.
Heart feels better, then.
But the words of head do not remain long in the ears of heart.
Heart is so new to this.
I want them back, says heart.
Head is all heart has.
Help, head. Help heart.
So we mourners weep. But we also say "Hi!"