The Forty-Third Leaf


When I lost my young wife so suddenly I thought that the grief was almost unbearable.  I didn't know if I could endure it.    But it was not grief that I felt at that terrible time, it was pain, for the grief would come later.  The pain that I felt then was but a fragment of what was to come, and I would gladly endure such profound pain if only it would lessen the grief that I now feel daily. 

I consider myself an expert on the ravages of grief though I try to hide its effect, so here in this book I hope to describe it, and in some small way begin the process of burying it inside my soul.  Only then will I find peace. 

When an animal is caught in a trap, that animal will chew off its own leg to save itself, I have seen it.  That wounded animal knows nothing except escape, and it would escape the trap if only to plunge headlong over the precipice.  This is what pain is like.  Grief is not like this, and while pain can be disguised, or in some way covered up, grief can only begin after pain has subsided, and in this way grief feeds upon the aching dullness that feeds our soul, and like being buried in a shallow grave, grief is always present and cannot be forgotten. 

When Kathryn died, I feared that I would also die, for such was my pain.  But as time passed and the pain subsided, I realized that I was already dead, and that my spirit only went forward in this hollow body . . .such is grief. 

And where pain is a scream, grief is more like a whisper, forlorn, weary, intimate, endless, and as time passes, the grief only becomes duller, more penetrating.  Pain is soon forgotten, but grief is part of the soul, and all of our thoughts must change as our grief, like the tepid food that we eat, seasons our very essence, our very substance.  Eventually, God willing, we are able to love again, but our grief goes with us, for it is now part of who we are.


I must be honest with you, my readers, that I have no idea what my role is here. Am I to read this heartbreaking personal confession and somehow find a point of interest in this man's pain? Can that possibly be the reason for my receiving this ancient artifact? Though I am not the poet as my brother is, even I can discern the falseness in that conjecture. There must be another reason. We will, all of us, lose the ones we love. This is not a new phenomenon and it is not an affliction. It is as it was intended to be. In my short time of reading the King's words, he leads me to believe him of high intellect and likely capable of surpassing any of my own insights. As such, he too must be aware of these truths. And yet, it has not protected him. He has stated that he will use this journal to further explore and describe his grief. Though I am hesitant to admit a connection so early in this process, I begin to wonder if perhaps I am meant to learn something. A witness to a tragedy is more than a witness. I wonder if perhaps Iona felt this also.

- D