- Frederich Nietzsche
Gerard Vanderleun just celebrated his seventh (!) blogiversary at American Digest, so go leave him some commenty love. But while you're there, he writes about some people who buried their son. It will make you think:
The dark secret fear lurking inside you when you are a parent is that your children will die before you do. That fear came true for this family. All parents can imagine their grief, but all choose not to do so. But they did not choose, as so many do, to be utterly undone by grief. Instead they chose to balance grief with joy, "For Joy and sorrow are inseparable," and place upon this grave a bronze symbol of all that is best in this life and in this world.All parents can imagine their grief, but all choose not to do so. They choose to not gaze into that Abyss.
Except some do. They do, because they have no choice.
Is it any consolation to remember her as she was? That bright, intrepid spirit, that keen, fine intellect, that lofty scorn for all that was mean, that social charm which made your house such a one as Washington never knew before and made hundreds of people love her as much as they admired her.Henry Adams was one of America's nineteenth century men of letters. Grandson and Great-Grandson of presidents, his house in Washington D.C. was high on the society list. Desperately in love with his wife, he built a new house for her, and shortly before its completion, she took cyanide. Adams gazed into the Abyss.- John Hay, letter to Henry Adams on the suicide of Adams' wife Clover
Two things stand out to me about his reaction: he burned all the letters she sent to him; he also had this sculpture created.
It's usually called "Grief", although Adams hated that name; you can see it in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington D.C. If you go, pick a day with cold rain, like Dad and I did so many years ago. Not only will the weather keep the crowds away, but it adds to the sense of melancholy, and perhaps gives a glimpse into Adams' Abyss.
All parents can imagine their grief, but all choose not to do so. Some parents don't have this choice; they live on a front line, dug in at the very precipice. They gaze into the Abyss every day. The view is terrifying, and it becomes even more disturbing when you realize that Nietzsche was right: the Abyss gazes back at you. But in that returned stare you will find a lesson.
Pandora did well to keep Hope captured in her box. Even in the Abyss, you see life holding on.
It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.- Joseph Campbell
UPDATE 19 June 2010 22:34: Must-read comment by ASM826 shows why he's a daily read for me.