I read a book in college that chronicled a father’s grief after losing his son. He said that what he most wanted from people, more than cards, sincere and clumsy, or flowers, pretty and temporal, was the simple gesture of sitting with him on the mourning bench. I was not sure then, and I am not sure now, what that translates to in practical terms and I am in need of an answer.
My friend is losing her mother to cancer. Any time now. We are all just waiting.
I feel frozen in knowing what I should do. Should I call, cook something, email, text, send something, or just pray? I end up mostly crying. I cry at my kitchen sink, while updating my husband, while driving, or after receiving texts regarding how she is doing. I don’t know what to do for my friend. She is not without people who love her, friends closer than I am, but still I want her to know I am sitting with her on the mourning bench. Just sitting and crying. I don’t understand her grief or know how she feels. I guess, even if I have known death in my own life, I could not understand it because each death is as unique as each life.
The man in the book I read in college talked about a poet who wrote about “inscape.” Something had inscape when it put it’s stamp on things, when it had a particularly unique quality to the way it interacted with the world. Each of us has inscape. The way we shake hands or say hello when we answer the phone. The way we put on lipstick or get ready before bed. As each life has inscape, the man wrote, so does each death. There are things about the grief my friend feels that I will never understand, but I will sit with her nonetheless.
And I am not alone. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of people sharing a seat on this mourning bench. We sit together with you, dear Jane.