Please use this blog to help us remember Joshua Lee Anderson, who made the tragic and fatal decision to take his life on Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Please post any memories or thoughts you may have in the comments.

Friday, July 6, 2012

All Sorrow Feels Ancient - All Death Feels New

I recently came across one of the most profound sentences in all my reading since Josh's death.  It was not from the actual book, Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels - which I quickly looked up on Amazon and Goodreads, saw enough that interested me and have downloaded the sample onto my iPad - but rather, was included in a list of simple sentences in Priscilla Long's book, The Writer's Portable Mentor.
All sorrow feels ancient.
Only four words which rings so true.  Why?  What is this "ancient sorrow"? These were the questions I sought to answer in my journal.

I envision this "ancient sorrow" like a wide moving river, flowing through time and space, generations and centuries, across cultures and species, picking up all sorrow in its wake.  And I'd like to presume that this "ancient sorrow" is the most intense, the most constant, the deepest and harshest when connected to the loss of a child.

I was oblivious to its existence but no more.  Intimate with it now - I am floating on it, living in it, and have been drinking from it daily, for over three years.  This "ancient sorrow" fills me up and I know that each day, others' sorrow adds to it.

Which brings me to my next thought: Death is inevitable.  One day, life will end.  It is a known fact, a reality.  But for some reason, despite the millions of people who have already "passed away", this intimate, carnal knowledge of death is unknown.  One cannot really "know" how it will feel - the loss of a loved one - until it happens to you.  We can read about it, watch movies, listen to songs and even be moved to tears but will not really know it until we experience it first-hand.

Why?  This seems very cruel. Why can't an ancient knowledge and understanding of death be imparted to us, down through the generations so that when it happens, we might have some familiarity, some understanding, some comprehension to help us navigate through the intense emotions?  Instead, we are left to our own devices: to struggle, weather and survive the impact of an emotionally destructive tidal wave, tsunami or hurricane - for that is how loss feels.

Yes, to quote Anne Michaels again, "All sorrow feels ancient."  What I will add is this:  All death feels new.

RIP beloved Josh.

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