Silence blanketed me after Stephanie’s last post.  We had put our pens together to scrawl our way through our separate parents’ passage with A.L.S., and now, without warning, her other parent plummets into the strange purgatory of Alzheimer’s.    Silence held the sheer swiftness of it, the severity of it slicing through my friend’s already full and overflowing life.

Recently, my father recounted a moment, now almost 40 years past, when he attended his dear friend, John, as John attended his only daughter, dying of leukemia.  My father sat in John’s home, listening to the sound of feet running to and from the bedside above, the sound of moans and terrible aching pain, a child’s fear ringing through the house.  And then, suddenly, all sound was gone.  Silence rushed in, crawling through the house on heavy feet, bedding down.  At last, John emerged out of the bedroom, he descended the long stairs.  My father had the presence to know that there was nothing to say.  Two men of golden tongues; they had gone beyond words.  For thirty minutes and more, my father sat there in the deepest rung of silence, determined to stay faithful to his friend for as long as silence needed them.

Resist the urge to prattle in, I remind myself. Wherever your friend goes, be there.  This is not a time for thought, or reason, or hope.  There is only this dun-colored day, as yesterday laid out its palette for the funeral of Stephanie’s father, without color or the clarity of light.  Attend the silence, opaque as it might be.  It is holding everything.

with a favorite remembrance from T.S. Elliot:

“I said to my soul be still,
and wait without hope; for hope would be hope of the wrong thing;
wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing;
there is yet faith.
But the faith, and the love, and the hope are all in the waiting.

Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
so the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”

~ by Stephanie on 09/12/2010.

One Response to “a.large.silence.”

  1. Dearest Susan,
    Yes, silence holds everything, as does friendship, as do words, especially these — beautifully and generously offered. Prattle?? You couldn’t if you tried.

    with love and deep, silent and loud gratitude,

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