But for all that, there hummed through his body a sorrow and loneliness that took him back to his son's death. The very thought made him dig into his own skin, deep scratches further enflaming his condition of old: cutting himself and bloody and restless turning all night, an impossible itchiness--"un picazon" he told Ramirez--hives ravaging his knee and arm joints, bumps formed under his arms. He knew it was really bad when welts rose on his back and blotches appeared floating like large measle dots on his face, a depressing state, because he felt like a leper, not wanting to touch or be touched, and he would twist and turn and ask, "Why me?" and "Why is it going on and on?"
For decades, Ives tortures himself like this. He can't let go of his sadness and grief. If he tries to be happy, he feels guilty, and the guilt manifests as scratches and oozing sores on his body. Every day is a punishment for Ives. At night, one question swoops through the air above him like a fruit bat--"Why?" Ives wants to understand the reason behind his son's death and his own unending sorrow.
I have been in a quiet state of sorrow myself for the past three months. I try not to let it overwhelm me. It's difficult some days. Driving to work in the morning this past week, I've been listening to a radio station that has been playing just Christmas music. Bing Crosby. The Carpenters. Johnny Mathis. Every morning, I've cried. I'm not sure if it's the early hour, the music, or my tired state of mind. By the time I get to the medical office, I'm a mess. I have to sit in my car for a few minutes just to pull myself together.
I don't think I'm as bad as Ives. I don't brood or avoid happy occasions, and I haven't stopped participating in any of my normal activities. In fact, I'm currently planning a Christmas concert to benefit a local homeless shelter. I am able to function. Yet, sometimes, when I'm alone, there's a sadness that descends upon me. It's palpable, like putting on a wet bathing suit.
I know that grief is a process. I simply can't wake up one morning and say, "Okay, I'm done with being sad. Time to move on." It just doesn't work that way. And I'm getting better. There are whole days where I don't experience that clinging sadness. I am very thankful for days like that. Other days are more challenging. And I am thankful for days like that, too, because they remind me to cherish my blessings--my family, home, jobs.
You can't have light without darkness. That's just the way the universe works. The darkness defines the light. Therefore, Saint Marty is thankful for the darkness.
Calligraphy of geese
against the sky--
the moon seals it.
It cried three times,
Off the Top of My Head