Summer Hebrew was an intensive eight week course: six months of Hebrew packed into two. I have no aptitude for ancient languages, but I do have a certain degree of compulsiveness and a surprising capacity for work, and so I did well.
Toward the end of the final week, I sat outside at a picnic table for awhile talking with my professor and his wife, as I often did when I returned from my early evening walk. "You seem much calmer than you did at the beginning of the summer," his wife observed.
"Well, that's partly because I finally figured out how to study and learn the material," I said, "and partly because I have come to a new place in my grief. For a long time," I continued, "you resist it, because you cannot imagine that anyone could possibly tolerate this much pain and survive. And then you realize that people do, in fact, live like this, and you begin to understand that (as a friend so wisely wrote), while the weight of the burden does not ease, you can shift it in ways that make it possible to carry."
It was clear from their expressions that they had no idea what I was talking about. I'm getting used to that.
Today we received a note from a former roommate of our son's, a delightful and creative man from Paris. It's probably been six months since I found the language for telling such startling and horrific news in the form of a letter to someone so young, and he first apologized for his delay in responding. He has been in Shanghai for the past year and one-half, he said, and his mother had left some mail, including my letter, in a pile on the hall table for him. Then he added some lovely memories about our son and expressed his desire to stay in touch.
And I thought, OK, whatever: This is not my life.
I guess that sometimes we carry things around and sometimes we just pretend that we don't.