Last night at my grief support group was terrible. I have so much respect for the facilitators of these things, really, they study bereaved adults and children, get degrees in these areas, put together groups with the sole intention of helping.
The goal last night was the context of storytelling. Losing a loved one is a watershed event in anyone’s life (you think?) and the idea was to put the loss in the context of your loved ones life. To tell the story from whatever point you chose, and to end with the loss, like closing a book.
Everyone got a chance to tell their story, and the time ran out before it was my turn. Juvenile offense aside (Hey! That’s not fair! I didn’t get a turn!), it was just terrible to listen to everyone elses’s traumatic events, and have mine simmering under the surface.
I am also not entirely sure it was helpful. Chris’s cancer journey was a relatively small segment of an otherwise amazing life. Those last few days are traumatic for everyone, and for me, resulted in a genuine case of PTSD. Most of you, my good friends, know that I learn best visually. The vision of my best friend waking me up out of a sound sleep, aspirating on the contents of his stomach, and being too weak to turn to head, is something I need to forget. Brain chemicals are powerful, and I woke up in a state of panic. I woke to find my body turning his to the side so he wouldn’t choke.
I jolted awake to that for several months after Chris died. Enough.
Better to remember what we really were together, even in a fantastical context.
How about this?
My partner and I always had an overdeveloped sense of justice. We had been through many ugly battles, and lost more than our share of warriors. Any cause, any weakling that needed a strong hand, and we were there, ready to aid.
Some of our company called us foolish, even silly. But we knew there would be time to pay in hell, so we led our company to victory in the name of our captain, and won more times than not.
The day of evil had arrived and we had been called on by our captain to do everything we could to stand. The battle was very likely already lost.
I tied my long dredlocks back with a leather strip, and cinched my helmet. I strapped on my sword, ready for battle. The enemy was bloody, brutal and mean. I ran my gloved hand down the notches on my sheath, secretly glorying in the number of my kills.
I could feel the fury building in my chest, aching to get the chance to withdraw the sword of the spirit, and unleash it’s powerful sharpness.
“Peace, Sister.” My partner was always the steadier one. The breastplate of righteousness was firmly in place across his broad chest. His leather boots were closely fitted, and worn soft with the miles of journeying. His hands were large and calloused, marked with years fighting. But also years of gentle work, farming, animal husbandry, and romping in the fields with children.
“Where is your shield? You can’t do anything without it!” He was right, as usual. I unstrapped my shield from the side of my horse, and slung it across my back. The weight of my sword slapped against it.
“You know the enemy has the best archers. Look at it.” The burn marks and chars were obvious. I had used that shield to extinguish many deadly arrows over the years we had fought together.
“Let’s get the rest of the company and dig in. It’s going to be a long fight.”
I circled the rest around a hollow in the rocky scree that stretched around the base of the mountain. We set up camp, sleeping areas, food and animal stations.
My partner motioned for a private word on the top of the hillock.
“Listen. You can hear the enemy in the distance”
I cocked my head. I was known for my keen hearing, and the scrabbling, snarling hordes were indeed advancing.
“I have gotten word from the captain. Many of us are not going to live to see sunrise, maybe even me.” A spasm of fear gripped my gut.
“Surely not. You’ve led us so long and so well! We can’t lose you! We’d fall apart! The Captain must send reinforcements!”
“The Captain will do as he pleases. He’s given us everything we need to succeed. I trust you with my life, but you have to listen to the battle plan.”
My knees threatened to buckle as he talked. We were going to be overrun. There were too many of them, and to few of us. How could the captain send us into a battle like this, that was so lopsided? What could he possibly expect us to do?
Well, that’s enough for today. Thanks for listening to a junior-high writing exercise. See you next time!
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13
13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.