Last spring, I was privileged to hear Islamic scholar Dr. Omid Safi speak on “the Heart of Islam.” He said that one of the things he wished for was that we (humans) learn to extend hospitality to our emotions — that we learn to say, “Hello Grief, my old friend. We will walk together for a while, and then I will say farewell, knowing we will meet again.”
I thought of this today because I was visited by Grief, in a form Grief has not visited in before. I woke up this morning and saw the headline that Sir Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld novels, had passed away from early onset Alzheimer’s at age 66. Now, I love Discworld, and I love Terry Pratchett, and it’s a tragedy that we won’t be getting another 20 years of literary work from him. On that level, yes, I’m pretty bummed out.
But I hate Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s took my grandfather from me in a slow, tragic, painful death. And reading about how Pratchett got lucky — he was at home, in his own bed, with his family and his sleepy cat — made me ache. My grandfather died in hospice and I wasn’t there.
So Grief showed up today. I tried to say, “Hello, my friend,” but it came out, “This mortality shit is for the birds.”
And Grief said, “Yes. Yes, it is.”