Mrs. Dalloway, Death, Dandelions
I have been teaching Mrs. Dalloway for two weeks; I have been grieving my father’s death for four. For a week, mourning was public — e-mails, phone calls, plane trips, viewing, funeral, funeral potatoes, cousins, cards. Now it seems quiet. Achy limbs. Ordinary days marked by a few sharp intakes of breath. Loss that doesn’t feel like depression. Pain that doesn’t feel like despair. More like a wound.
And tricky, stream-of-conciousy Mrs. Dalloway begins to make sense to me — a woman’s life in a single day. Her simple goal: to throw a party. She is the picture of confidence. But then you spend the day traveling in her mind, living as much in memories as in the present. And yet she loves the present. This moment. This June day. Loves it to the point of grief — the beauty of the sky, the uncut roses. Memory and moment, the sum of her life.
“. . . that one day should follow another; Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday; that one should wake up in the morning; see the sky; walk in the park; meet Hugh Whitbread; then suddenly in came Peter; then these roses; it was enough. After that, how unbelievable death was!-that it must end; and no one in the whole world would know how she had loved it all; how, every instant . . .”
I tend to live too much in the future, but this month has been much more about moment — including two shown below: 1) my father’s gravesite, where I visited alone the morning after his burial; 2) a Catholic Shrine I stumbled upon while driving for no reason because I couldn’t think of anything else to do but drive. They were beautiful moments.