Months To Years Summer 2018 MTY_Summer2018_v7 - Page 49

“Thank you. That gives voice to what I feel and fear others “Just like I long for contact with Philip, so these people still can’t understand,” I said. “I need to listen to what my body seek connection,” I said to my therapist.   knows of this loss, not just my mind, to become more heart-whole. I also want the wound to teach me to be The narrator then explained that some Japanese Buddhists even a tiny bit wiser, a bit more loving,” I said.  believe the spirits of the dead may linger close to the living in cases of sudden death; the spirits may be confused, “Yes,” she said. unable to pass beyond, or they may be worried about those they’ve left behind.  So, in some of the phone “I’m also seeking a deeper, more loving connection with conversations, the bereaved give reassurances to the dead. Philip, one that passes through and goes beyond this pain to embrace the depths of the love. And, finally, I want “We’re OK,” one young man says to his father. “We miss to be better prepared for the inevitable deaths of others, you and love you, but we’re all right.  You can go on.” Tears as well as my own.  To come closer to understanding choke his voice and startle me into crying. what living and dying well might mean.” I asked my therapist, “Is this what I need to say to Philip? “I don’t know how to grieve, how to live with grief,” I said at These people seem to have a cosmology that includes the start of our first session.  “I wander about not knowing setting the dead free.”   if I want to sit or stand, go out or stay in. I’m sure I’m not the first, last, or only person to feel this way. So, why don’t “Try it,” she said. they teach this in school?  I mean, who needs algebra when we don’t know how to deal with death or how to Philip, my love, may you be free, but please know how my die?”  love longs to fly with you. “These feelings and the puzzle related to grief are unique Another young man talks through heart-rending sobs.  The to each of us,” she said.  “Yet, they’re also universal. You’re sole survivor, he speaks to his whole family. not alone, yet you feel terribly alone.” “Sometimes I don’t know why I go on living,” he I relaxed into the warmth of being seen and understood. says.  “Without you, it all seems meaningless.  I’m so sorry I “I need to learn how to be present with myself in this couldn’t save you.”    unspeakable absence.” Yes. Meaningless without you, Philip. And, I am so, so sorry Before my next therapy session, I listened to an odd I couldn’t save you, my boy. story on NPR about survivors of the 2011 tsunami in Japan. Seven years later, people are still seeking contact After fasting at a retreat in Costa Rica four months earlier, with those they lost.  symptoms from an undiagnosed illness—that he had hoped to cure at the retreat—had only worsened. I rushed The narrator spoke of one survivor who set up a phone him back to the United States, just in time for him to die in booth in his yard with an old rotary phone connected a hospital two-and-a-half days later. to nowhere.  He uses this phone to “call” and talk to his lost loved ones.  The narrator described how others who I left the therapist’s office to walk the easy 15 minutes to have also lost family, friends, and lovers to the tsunami my apartment. She worked out of a house that Philip and drive many miles to use this man-made phone-line to I had walked past regularly, only a few blocks from the heaven, to have one-way conversations with their dead or cozy 1906 bungalow where we lived together in another disappeared.   lifetime. Passing slowly by the old house, I saw him sitting 49