Oh, Jenifer, I love this, " I’ve been not really processing his death so much as integrating his presence into my daily life more."
I’ve told you this story before, but I will tell it again instead of just referring to it for others who may be reading:
When I was, oh, about 26, my friend Teri was staying with me and my boyfriend. One day, she asked if I minded if she played her viola in the living room of our small railroad flat. It was, she explained, her father’s birthday, and she liked to play for him on his birthday. He had died when she was a child, but she had a beautiful relationship with him in her heart. It was the first time that anyone had shared with me their experience of a living, vibrant relationship with their beloved dead. That one morning, where she was just honest about why she was playing that day, was such a gift. It became a model for me of how to carry on loving someone when their physical form was no longer present in your life, of how to carry on the relationship with how they live in your heart.
I think that when we tell ourselves that someone is GONE GONE GONE FOREVER GONE, it deepens the hurt of being unable to be present with them in the form we have known. But there is another way to grieve, and you have spoken of it so skillfully and sweetly here: we take the little room in our heart which holds love for that person, and instead of boarding it up or setting it on fire, we throw a party in it. We snug up and watch movies with the one we love, or we have tea with them, or a beer with them, or we sing to them. We write them letters or talk to them. We take the relationship which was external and we internalize it. We allow the person to be alive within us. I’m thinking of that They Might Be Giants Line “make a little birdhouse in your soul.”
I am so grateful to Joel for all his gifts to you, and for the way they spread out to the world through you, as James has spoken so well.
Thank you for asking me to join you in grieving. I’ll be singing for you both again in the morning.