Friday, August 20, 2010

In Search of Lost Time

(This was actually written several days ago.)

That is the title by Marcel Proust which comes to mind lately, as mine works and overworks to process and come to some limited understanding of my brother's death and the events surrounding it.  For various reasons.  The title seems appropriate in more than one way.  The length and style of the work seems relevant as well (If you're curious, no, I've not read it.  Someone who has once told me it should wait until age 50, but I rather doubt I'll ever read it.  God knows.).

At first, no words for expression would come, or only limited ones that seemed grossly insufficient.  Now, I find that when I begin to think of letting some out, it's like opening a floodgate. 
They seem excessive, and in an overwhelming almost nonsensical stream-of-consciousness manner which I fear will bore almost anyone near to tears.  But that is where I find myself anyway, near to tears but not quite there, many times over.  If you visit my blog I guess you run the risk of joining me. 

Here I am.  Because writing is something I do.  Like breathing?  Not that literally essential, but from a literary standpoint that will do to express.

And because, well, I do hope it can perhaps help someone, in spite of itself.

And because it helps me to share?  Perhaps.  That remains to be seen.

The vast majority of what I write never makes it to the screen. The reasons for that are many and varied.  I write mostly for my own purposes, to work something out, to just keep track of things on many levels (ironic because, well, you surely know what it's like to keep track of papers, or even computer files) etc., like many people do, yet I do think I write more than many people -- far more than my husband, for example, and he writes sermons and articles regularly as part of his work.  But I don't write for a living, at least not in the traditional sense of that phrase. 

Clint wanted to be a writer for years.  I watched his writing develop.  From a young age he dreamed of writing books.  And he didn't just dream.  He actually wrote many, many chapters.  And other things.  He could have made himself into quite an author had he decided to.  I am certain of that.  But he had chosen different paths of late.  He was studying nuclear engineering.  He had a lot of  talents and a lot of interests and an excellent mind.  He loved chemistry.  But he also still loved writing.  He said he'd always write (will we write in heaven?).  We never happened to talk about whether he felt similarly to the way I do about it, that I recall.  There were a lot of things we didn't have time to talk about.  But at least some of his writing energy of late had been put into sermons.  Because he also loved the Lord.  Writing and delivering them seemed to come naturally for him, and he was beginning to really be able to be a tremendous encouragement and help to the church through his lessons.  We're thankful some of them were recorded.  Little did we know what treasures those would seem to us now.

Being a woman, and believing in the Bible's stance on differences in gender roles, I haven't written speeches for the general assembly of the saints.  I have helped edit a few. ;) And one who writes can't help but touch on any topic she finds of interest at all.  But while I've always been close to men who wrote and delivered speeches on a regular basis, that is not my place.  My writing is not for that.  In fact, I have wrestled with the issue of how appropriate it is for a woman to write to a wide audience which could be considered "public" on any Bible-related topic at all if she should happen to be teaching anyone through her writing.  That is another subject, and one I will not permit myself to wander into now in depth.  I'll just say that it's not something I view as a problem for what I do on this blog.  If you have a different view that you think you can back up with scripture I'd be willing to hear it.

I have seen journal-type writings over the past few years which people, mostly women, or a man and wife together, kept through their various journeys through grief.  I have appreciated and learned from them.  Some were an encouragement to me at the time I read them, and some have even vaguely come to mind to encourage me since Clint's death.  CS Lewis even wrote a book, A Grief Observed, which I have not read (Edit:  I hesitated and saved a draft of this for days before publishing, and in that time I did read a bit of the book) but which was mentioned by a couple people since Clint's death.  I may read it at some point.  It is about his struggles as he wrestled with his wife's death (she died of cancer).

These fragments of disconnected but loosely related thoughts align themselves roughly in my mind into possible reasons to journal here through my own grief.  Part of me wants to. Part of me doesn't.  Part of me doesn't know.  I am usually not a very fast writer in a polished form.  I have my moments which make me appreciate that some have come up with the concept of the "muse" to explain sudden seeming inspiration, but generally I tend to be perhaps overly analytical, self-critical, and plodding.  I have learned, sometimes from hard life experience, that it is good to take care with what one writes, especially if you intend to send it out into the world in any form.  Sometimes I wonder whether I've learned it well enough yet.  The pen (or keyboard in this case) is one of those tools so common in today's world that we often forget how dangerous it has the potential to be.  Kind of like the car....

Do you see how my mind wanders, how it is constantly drawn back to my brother, to his death?  Anything I write here regularly enough to be considered a journal would almost certainly be in this sort of form.  It would not be fully weighed.  It would be rough, unpolished.  Almost certainly there would be things I regret writing. And that frightens me.  Do potential benefits outweigh my concerns?  Is it a balm?  Do its beneficial properties outweigh its potential adverse side effects?  There is so much I don't know.

I'm dipping a toe in a water I hope doesn't carry me away to helplessly drown in its current.  Here I stand, with words that flow like so many tears.  A fool is known by many words.  Yet I pray for wisdom.


  1. Amber- I really do understand where you are coming from.
    Writing is a catharsis, and is very helpful.

    Somewhere on some Word file in my old computer are my thoughts when we found out Tom had cancer. I have never shared that particular document with anyone. It really helped just to let the words pour out along with tears. And there have been a few times on xanga I let my guard down. It really does help to get it in words. Pain shared is pain diffused.

    But disease is different than sudden loss. I think that the brotherhood and family have somewhat prepared their minds to lose Tom. Clint was a different matter. It was a thunderbolt out of the blue. I don't know about you, but I still want to reject the news. Only by going to the funeral, was it possible to accept the fact that it was true.

    We cannot possibly put ourselves in your position. We pine to do something to ease your family's grief, but we have only our feeble words, but hopefully powerful prayers.

    I have read most of the C.S. Lewis book, "A Grief Shared". I thought it was very honest.

    I will speak for myself- I am comforted by your thoughts you have shared with us as you work through this process. My grandparents lost a son to rheumatic fever when he was nine. We could never get my grandma to tell us anything about Ronald. She was just too heartbroken to even say his name, but as children, we had no comprehension- it was just mysterious to us.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We hope you know- and your family knows, that each day we think of you, and pray that this day will be better than the one before it.

    Love, LuAnn

  2. Part of the loss of a loved one is grieving the loss of your previous perspective on life. This is not to say your new perspective is not deeper and more spiritually wholesome than your previous perspective, but there is still a longing for the time when your mind would wander unfettered without returning to the weight of grief.

    I assume your writing will reflect that for some time. Intertwining your thoughts of Clint with your day-to-day reflections seems natural to me, and whether it helps you or edifies someone else may not be the point, but rather it is just what comes to mind for you from time to time. I assume it will be edifying and/or a balm much of the time, though. Just know that as a reader of your blog, my expectations are to read only whatever you feel like sharing that day, and nothing will seem too trivial or too verbose.

    My love and prayers continue.

  3. I, too, am one who processes my thoughts and feeling by writing. I understand what you are saying about wondering when I might share too much. But I do agree with LuAnn that pain shared is pain diffused, and it seems that even when my transparency makes me feel scared and vulnerable, I am lifted up by people praying for me and just sharing words of understanding and comfort. I do also think sharing our thoughts and feelings can help others.

    "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ." II Corinthians 1:3-5

    Please do journal your process--whether you do it privately or on your blog--get those thoughts and feelings out there for yourself to work through. And I completely see the connection between our familiarity with something, such as words and the pen, making us forget how dangerous they can be--and the mind leap to cars. That makes perfect sense to me.

    I continue praying for you and for your family.