Thursday, April 01, 2010
Tonight was our monthly Literature & Medicine discussion group at the VA. I've been to the VA a bunch of times since Dad died, and it's never bothered me. But tonight I got sideswiped by vivid memories of riding with him in those elevators, of pushing his wheelchair along those hallways. A passing cart of meal trays triggered memories of feeding him the pureed food he hated. The smell of the hospital brought back in a rush the many hours, some surprisingly happy, I'd spent there with him.
Needless to say, I was teary-eyed by the time I got to the conference room where the Lit&Med group meets. Someone gave me a hug, which helped, and once we got into the discussion I was fine.
A friend of mine who's a therapist told me that she thinks the second year after a death is harder than the first. I hope not! I've been rereading The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion's memoir of the year after her husband's death; I'm teaching it in my grad seminar next week. She talks about "the vortex," riptides of memory sweeping her from seemingly innocuous associations to hauntingly painful ones. Reading about her vortices may have primed me for mine. Also, in honor of April Fool's Day, it snowed off and on all day here, and I've been chilly since this morning, which may have made me more emotionally vulnerable.
Or it might just have happened anyway.
The VA discussion was lively and fascinating, as usual. Afterwards, I rushed to Maundy Thursday services at church and got there in time to have my feet washed. This year I found the stripping of the altar especially stark and powerful, well suited to my mood.
We won't be having our usual noon-3 Good Friday service this year. Not many people ever come, and the clergy are tired. So instead we're doing a joint evening service with the Lutheran congregation across the street. I'm curious to see how that turns out. I loved our traditional Good Friday service, but I hope the later time will encourage more people to show up.