Compounding

In the car the other day an Iron and Wine song came on.

I've never paid attention to the lyrics before but suddenly, they penetrated and I heard them for the first time.

It's not a new topic for a song: a soldier at war, missing his wife and kid and finally coming home.

However, I wasn't expecting the twist at the end...

And I want to see my family
My wife and child are waiting for me
I've got to go home
I've been so alone, you see

When I walked through the door my wife she laid upon the floor
And with tears her eyes did soar, I did not know why
Then I looked into her hand and I saw the telegram
Said that I was a brave, brave man but that I was dead

I want to see my family
My wife and child are waiting for me
Got to go home
I've been so alone, you see

I was in tears, like a switch had been turned on. No stopping it. Waves and waves of pain.

I realized I'd been, again and again in days and months and years after Dave died, all this time, imagining him beyond mourning as a dead person. Either death meant no more experiences anyway because there is no afterlife, or it meant your soul went on somehow, somewhere, but you were elevated to a place where you were at peace with everything. Either way, at least he wasn't hurting like I was.

Honestly, the thought of Dave somewhere else, some different plane, also grieving his loss, was too much to consider. My sadness took up my whole being. Imagining him somewhere, suffering just as much or more than I was too much to bear and I never allowed the thought.

But now that I'm no longer acutely grieving, this perversely painful thought took hold thanks to these lyrics.

What if he was or is in pain, too? And he's beyond my help and I'm beyond his help? In a world unfair enough to take him from me like this, who was I to believe the universe was somehow fair enough to allow at least him to have some peace as a soul? Come on. How ridiculous. I've been fooling myself. Who's to say a spirit, if it exists, can't mourn too?

It doesn't really matter though. It's beyond my ability to know, either way. It's not my job to know. It's my job to heal. I will not torture myself unnecessarily.

Grief still arises in me like a fever. I don't see it coming and I can't do anything but let it rise in me and then pass through me. I will let it but I won't allow myself to compound it with imaginary pain.

Whether it's true or not, I'll go on imagining him free from pain, whatever state he is or isn't in now.

I've suffered enough.


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