I posted the following just four weeks after Lewis died. He died two years ago today. It seems, on an emotional level, that I was in a kind of deer-in-the headlight catatonic trance for at least a year.
And now these last twelve months have been an uphill battle emotionally with lots of valleys and even abysses along the way. The trance gone, the feelings have been very raw. Looking back and reading the words I wrote in June 2009, it is hard to believe I could write them at all. Their source, of course, was in the truth of the relationship Lewis and I enjoyed together, his loving presence in my life. That presence cannot be taken from me and will always endure. And that presence has been an essential force in my healing through grief.
How can it be that the one whom I have lost is the one who also keeps me going? This paradox has become my most abiding comfort…..and reflects the one universal and essential truth…that God is love and he who abides in love abides in God and God in him. DEUS CARITAS EST.
Four Weeks (June 2009)
It has been nearly a month since Lewis experienced his earthly death. He died of heart failure. It was totally unexpected, undiagnosed, and as best I can remember his symptoms had been scant for those of us who loved him dearly. That he died of “too big a heart” is perfectly fitting for the man I loved. I was the largest benefactor of his unreasonable and sometimes delirious ability to love unconditionally, I was his fierce defender and I was his most potent critic, often expressing dismay at how much he was giving of himself to me and others when he was wearing thin and becoming stretched at his seams.
His seams, as I knew them, were very transparent. You could feel when he was getting cranky. He was not that way very often, but when he was his face muscles would stiffen and he would firm his lips and hold them tightly together to prevent himself from saying something he would regret. Being warned, I would wait for his sigh, his long relaxed breath, and then we would begin to communicate in some other way.
What is so wonderful to remember about him is how extraordinarily happy he would become while observing and interacting with life and its pulses, its unique gifts of beauty and intricate design, and its simple eloquence.
He loved collecting feathers from our two ringneck doves. He preferred the smallest ones, pure white and symetrical and kept them in bottles and plastic containers for display. He kept an assortment of polished stones that he again would deposit in various preferred places in our home and office–some he found in his daily walks and some he would collect through his travels here and there. He also collected seeds and nuts of all kinds and had them displayed on his office shelfs where he could share them with clients and describe his affinity for them in his daily sharing and work.
He was a reader of books and literature of all kinds. Complex works of scientific scholarship, books of wisdom, all kinds of science fiction and fantasy, religious and theological writings and scholarship, novels, how-to books, historical understandings and works of the ancients were a part of his everyday interest. I cannot tell you how sad I am to have lost my companion who had such an encylopedic mind.
One of his beloved clients is a woman who is a writer of science fiction and fantasy. He always looked forward to his time with her, a discussion of her current writing struggles, and he much enjoyed providing her encouragement in her craft.
He was very intentional in his life. I was the most favored recipient of his kindly intentions. During the last two years of his life he was slowly working to program me to fasten my seatbelt and harness it safely around the bottom of my mid-section as a matter of habit. It didn’t take much to tip me to the side of feeling irritated by his trying to direct me, so it became a delicate balance and he was very good at it. He intentionally responded so as to increase my patience and other character parameters in much the same way. Fortunately, we were both inclined to laughter and prankishness, so he didn’t have to help me there.
In the last five years we were sharing an office daily. Many of my clients, and certainly members of our staff, took object lessons from the way he would deal with my excessiveness and enjoyed his frank and sometimes capricious repertoire.
It added humility to our lives.
I have missed him these weeks in every possible way that can be a part of one’s daily encounter. His presence, his helpfulness, his touch, his light snoring, his companionship, his joviality, his principled rhetoric and playful expressions, his ability to keep our home and office running without breakdown for want of lightbulb or paper and most of all I miss his exorbitant love.
I know from being his life-long companion that he stepped into the heavenly kingdom and God’s side without a scratch or even the smallest of pauses. He had been a devoted journeyman apprentice of God’s plan and sought to walk in the Light everyday and in every way. This gives me the most comfort: that he and God are on the same ” line” listening to me as I ask for help and guidance each day. Sometimes it is quite a conversation.
I know that there are others in God’s presence, too, listening and encouraging each of us mortals as we struggle with our loves, losses and lemons.
We are persuaded to move forward, to not flinch from the journey, to enjoy each moment of our passage and to keep God’s dream for humankind as our vision, as our muscle and our innermost hope. We may cry and feel the pain of our fears and demons but we will always be able to reemerge in the Light.
As the first shaker (1807) hymn with notes tells us:
The heavens of glory are our Destination. We’re quickly advancing to the that happy shore. We’re traveling on in the regeneration. And when we get through we will sorrow no more!