Saturday, February 20, 2010
Today is a gift. Every day is a gift.
This morning Ryan accompanied me to Callen's funeral, and finally, my eyes are no longer those ridiculously damp spots; I understand now why these services are touted to allow us to make peace with passing. The service was incredible: we arrived half an hour early and had to park blocks away; we found seats in the last row in the fellowship hall as opposed to the chapel, which was packed (and thus, couldn't hear some of the quieter spoken participants, but still, the spirit was there); it began and ended with a drum circle. So many stories were told, and yes, I began with those ridiculous tears trickling down my face, but ended fully celebrating a life that touched so many, left thinking I might be able to live my own life better now, in ways that can honor a person so good.
His girlfriend was a student of mine too, both in the chorus of the musicals and also in the creative writing class I taught at the high school. I emailed many of my poet-friends, inquiring as to what book they might give in a situation such as this. I settled on Mary Jo Bang's Elegy, which is about the loss of a son to suicide and Donald Hall's Without, which is about the loss of a wife to cancer. Neither experiences parallel Callen and Rachel's situation exactly, but the methods aren't touted in the books as much as the journey of mourning. I chose these partly because they are what sprung to my own mind, partly because I thought an entire narrative as opposed to an anthology might bring more comfort as a more complete portrait of grief, and also because these read clearly. Other wonderful suggestions: the anthology The Invitation of Farewell, edited by Sandra Gilbert; Wild Iris and Averno by Louise Gluck; the anthology Beloved on the Earth: 150 Poems of Grief and Gratitude; Rumi; Georgics of Virgil; Into Perfect Spheres Such Holes Are Pierced by Catherine Barnett; Incomplete Knowledge by Jeffrey Harrison; Ander Monson's VacationLand; individual poems such as "To an Athlete Dying Young," an elegy by Edna St Vincent Millay, and Dylan Thomas' "A Refusal to Mourn..." as well as the prose memoir A Year of Magical Thinking. I only wish a library could ease that ache; I would shower her with books. I thank all of you who sent suggestions; it means a lot to me to have such dear friends sending love in that way.
Other bits from the world of the internet, which have touched me in processing this loss: this video made by a friend and this heartbreaking post written by his sister.
My heart is with those close friends and family as they make peace with losing Callen.
The above image and the ones that follow were all pulled from the Facebook page memorializing Callen. Unfortunately, I don't know who the original photographers are, so I cannot credit them, but I thank those people for sharing the images with us: