Time & A Grief Observed: Reflections from CS Lewis & AnnaLeah Karth

Today is the day that AnnaLeah was born 20 years ago. Though she only lived 17 years (almost 18), she filled her time with imaginative & colorful activities and endeavors. Time well-spent.

AnnaLeah had a personal collection of over 600 books–most of which she had read. And she loved to create and share imaginative worlds with words. A wordsmith. . . Here is a poem she wrote when she was 12:

AnnaLeah time poem 2007

AnnaLeah enjoyed the books of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, and I am sure that she would have loved to live at the time when The Inklings met in England to discuss the sorts of things she thrived on. So, when I recently read A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis, I couldn’t help but think of AnnaLeah.

Here are some excerpts from that book which especially resonated with me:

  • You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it? (pp. 22-23)
  • It is hard to have patience with people who say, ‘There is no death’ or ‘Death doesn’t matter.’ There is death. And whatever is matters. And whatever happens has consequences, and it and they are irrevocable and irreversible. You might as well say that birth doesn’t matter. I look up at the night sky. Is anything more certain than that in all those vast times and spaces, if I were allowed to search them, I should nowhere find her face, her voice, her touch? She died. She is dead. Is the word so difficult to learn? (p. 15)
  • Kind people have said to me, ‘She is with God.’ In one sense that is most certain. . . But I find that this question, however important it may be in itself, is not after all very important in relation to grief. . . You tell me, ‘she goes on.’ But my heart and body are crying out, come back, come back. Be a circle, touching my circle on the plane of Nature. But I know this is impossible. I know that the thing I want is exactly the thing I can never get….It is a part of the past. And the past is the past and that is what time means, and time itself is one more name for death, and Heaven itself is a state where ‘the former things have passed away.’ (pp. 24-25)
  • Reality never repeats. The exact same thing is never taken away and given back. . . For that is what we should all like. The happy past restored. And that, just that, is what I cry out for, with mad, midnight endearments and entreaties spoken into the empty air. (p. 26)
  • And poor C. quotes to me, ‘Do not mourn like those that have no hope.’ It astonishes me, the way we are invited to apply to ourselves words so obviously addressed to our betters. What St. Paul says can comfort only those who love God better than the dead, and the dead better than themselves. If a mother is mourning not for what she has lost but for what her dead child has lost, it is a comfort to believe that the child has not lost the end for which it was created. And it is a comfort to believe that she herself, in losing her chief or only natural happiness, has not lost a greater thing, that she may still hope to ‘glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ A comfort to the God-aimed, eternal spirit within her. But not to her motherhood. The specifically maternal happiness must be written off. Never, in any place or time, will she have her son on her knees, or bathe him, or tell him a story, or plan for his future, or see her grandchild. (pp. 26-27)

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