Chapter 1: In Loving Memory [Part 1]

In Loving Memory

I have read many books on conquering grief, and most writers advise to express as much grief as you actually feel. Talk about the departed loved one, to dwell on your sorrow, and to relive memories. 

In such bewilderment of grief, it is futile to seek an answer. It only leads to torment. Yet it doesn’t mean that there is no answer.

At first there is inner numbness and a loss of equilibrium. Grief, loneliness and despair is overpowering. Sorrow is a great shock, and its effect is profound. It can cloud the mind, chill the spirit, and destroy incentive. 

In short, one has to meet sorrow with courage, and the will to carry on. I received good advice from a dear friend, a doctor of psychiatry. His advice was to talk about the loved one, as much and as often as one cared to. It is a therapy to work through your feelings, by talking about them, and by reviewing the memories of the past association. 

This permits a loosening of the ties to the deceased one. 

Grieving persons can actually be harmed by having their depressive symptoms obliterated with liquor or drugs, such as tranquilizers or sleeping pills. It involves a series of adjustments and courage to carry on. But most of all the strength to extricate yourself from the bondage of grief. 

I came upon this idea of writing this memoriam as a means of therapy.

*****

I woke up early. It was still night. My eyes closed. I try to go back to sleep, but cannot get down deep enough. I remain halfway between reality and nightmare. I put the light on and try to read, and so avoid the many thoughts that crowd my brain, but I drift towards memories that fill me until for the space of a second I return to reality. I am back again in the hospital corridor facing the doctor. I read his face, but would not believe what I saw. Until in a cold professional voice, he told me that it was hopeless, inoperable cancer of the liver that had spread to other organs. It was given to me straight, and I was reeling under the blow. I can remember looking around for a safe place to land should I collapse.

With a voice that sounded far away I asked, “How long does he have left to live?” and “Please help him,” I begged, “I don’t want him to suffer.” 

But he, who would die, was asleep in the next room. I said to his friend who was visiting him, “It’s the end.” I wept uncontrollably. I am in shock. And mercifully my mind wanders to earlier years. 

When did I first meet you? How will I remember. It was Saturday, January 9th, 1924. It was a typical New England winter day, cold, bleak, and dreary.

Up early for Saturday we worked a half day. The usual rush to catch the trolley car that would take me to the center of the city and the Public Health office. There were weekly reports and calls to be made. New patients to be seen, dressings, and Hypos to be given, and after assist a doctor at home deliveries. But today all was quiet, and everything went well, and I was home by early afternoon. 

I had made plans for this evening. It was a double date with my best friend. My date was a very nice young man, but rather dull, and with no special appeal for me, but a Saturday night date was almost a must, and was never passed up. 

After reaching home I proceeded with the usual pre-date preparations. Hair to be washed and set, clothes to be pressed, bath, and if time enough, a short nap always helped.

Five o’clock and the phone rang. 

My married sister and her husband were entertaining a young man from Philadelphia. Would I join them for dinner. I refused explaining that I had made a date, and was already committed to go. “Break it,” she laughingly commanded. I’m told that this young man is very special. We are very anxious to make his business visit pleasant, and I am asking you to come as a special favor. Finally, I was persuaded to break my previous engagement, and arranged to be ready at seven o’clock. 

I dressed hurriedly not paying too much attention to what I would wear. I surely would not wear my first best, that was always worn for something very special. So dressed casually in my second best, I sallied forth to my blind date. 

But before the evening was over, I was to wish that I had worn all of my very best of finery. For this very evening, unknown to us, would be the turning point in both our lives. 

How can I describe you my darling, you with whom my life was destined to be linked forever. As you came towards me, you looked at me and smiled. My heart seemed to melt, and I had a confused moment. I cannot remember what I said, or, if I said anything at all. You drew me to you like a magnet. I looked into your eyes, and quickly glanced away. Again our eyes met, we shook hands. It was love at first sight for both of us. 

We danced, we dined, and we held hands on the way home, thus our courtship began.