A friend lost her husband yesterday. I only heard today. She’d already had one day, one morning without him. I came home tonight and began reading, “The Art of Losing,” a collection of poems about grief and healing. My husband arrived home an hour later to discover me in bed with this book. He’d lost a friend himself two days ago.
He was perplexed why I would be so morose, why I would attempt to deepen loss when loss is by nature so bottomless. I’m not morose, I explained. But you’re crying, he said. I was – it was true. I was in the midst of reading Philip Larkin’s poem “The Mower”:
The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed, It had been in the long grass.
I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:
Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful
Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.
He asked me if I was going to attend the funeral and whether I had spoken to her. I am but I had not. I’m going to send her this book, I said. But first, though I didn’t say this, I wanted to read these poems once more, to join her this evening.
I’m getting ready to go to bed, but I let the dogs out one last time. There aren’t many stars in the sky. What happens to stars when they go out? I wonder, so I wrote this poem before I go to sleep.
There are as many stars as there are grains of sand,
Someone told me, though I can’t remember where or who.
I’ve never met an astronomer so I don’t know why I believe this.
I should Google it before I share,
Before the words are read by you and become real,
Like the light reaching me from the sky of limitless sand.