“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing."
“Giving books that lift always feels right.” I’m quoting Rae right there—as per usual, she’s spot on. A friend of mine that I work with just lost her mom unexpectedly. She was only 74. I’ve been racking my tired brain to figure out what I can do for her while her heart is breaking. I should probably knock on her door with a bucket and a mop in hand. (A clean floor can make up for a lot that’s gone wrong, for me anyway.) Flowers before spring blooms can feel refreshing too. Of course, I’m always inclined to give a fitting book because there’s so much solace in them. Besides they have longevity. And they lift.
In trying to decide which book is the right one for my friend, I riffled through several in my head that have the power to assuage a bit of pain via perspective. My Grandfather’s Blessings, The Last Lecture, As I Lay Dying, Tuesdays with Morrie, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, The Year of Magical Thinking, and When Breath Becomes Air all come to mind; however, A Grief Observed may be at the top of my list. C.S. Lewis, another imaginary best friend, possesses a rare and beautiful wisdom. The honest and raw admission of a stalwart believer’s faith put to the test will resonate with a soul occupied by grief. How Lewis gradually regains his footing will offer comfort and hope to the anguished reader.
In the accompanying note I write, I’ll draw yet again from The Once and Future King. The advice Merlyn gives to young King Arthur is invaluable: “The best thing for being sad is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder in your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewer of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then—to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it.” And who better to learn from than C.S. Lewis?