Gertrud sat in her living room, the picture of a little blond girl in her hands. She did not feel the comfort of her Laura Ashley sofa with many beautiful roses. She just looked at the picture. “C.S. Lewis is right,” she thought. “We start to make up images of our loved ones once they are gone”. Gertrud could not take away her eyes from the picture. The low glass living room table only had a small and round lace piece and C. S. Lewis’s “A Grief Observed” on it. The sun shone directly through the huge window from behind Gertrud. She heard sparrows fight over the corns in the birdfeeder and distant cars driving along. The sounds did not reach her mind. Neither did the warmth of the sun. Her body took a deep breath and only this made her realise she hadn’t breathed for some time. “I wish I could be as logical about Theresa’s death as Lewis was,” she thought. And then “Well, maybe he wasn’t so logical about it after all. “A Grief Observed,” sounds rather like he suffered a lot from the loss of his wife Joy Davidman.”. She didn’t know much about the author besides that he wrote the Narnia series. And she didn’t touch the book for ages after Marjory had given her the book. “Maybe it helps a little” she had said in a rare showing of gentleness towards Gertrud. It was several months after her granddaughter had passed away from leukaemia. “Marjory still doesn’t understand how it feels. How could she?” Gertrud thought. “She has no children nor grandchildren!”. Gertrud remembered the many afternoons little Theresa had spent with her. Her daughter Sonja worked, so she took care of the playful girl. They played with Theresa’s invisible friend Troy a greyhound and baked or weeded the garden together. “Theresa was so curious about everything,” Gertrud thought. “Maybe she knew from the beginning that her life won’t be a long one.
It was Gertrud who took Theresa to the doctors when she got more and more illnesses here and there. But they had asked for Sonja to come along for the diagnosis. Then Gertrud knew it was something serious. A car door banged outside and got Gertrud out of her reverie. She looked up towards the white wooden door with many little round windows in it. Somehow she expected her husband to come inside the house, but the car seemed to be some houses down. Gertrud sighed. “No, “A Grief Observed” hadn’t helped much. It was not a good comparison from losing your soul mate to losing a beloved child. Even though Gertrud understood the struggle with Lewis’s belief in God. She had felt it herself: Was God bad because he let bad things happen to good people? Was he or she there at all? Even though, of course, at Lewis’s time, hardly anyone would imagine God as a woman. It took her several years to add this idea to her thinking, mainly because Marijke lived such a happy life in this belief. Like Lewis, she had stopped going outside or being in contact with anyone but her husband and daughter when grieving. Until Marjory, Marijke and Beatrice came one evening and brought her a poem, each in their respective mother tongues. This visit was the start of the “Multi-lingual Poetry Appreciation Group“. That soothed her pain a little. Something positive had come out of this tragedy. For weeks she only wrote about grief and darkness until Beatrice suggested looking for prompts. That was when they discovered Eugi’s blog and her weekly creative writing prompt. “We even pondered starting blogging ourselves,” Gertrud thought. “But only Marijke did, I think”
After a couple of months, Gertrud had taken the book outside in the garden and started reading. The foreword by Lewis’s son gave her so much information about his stepfather’s life, which helped her understand the depths of Lewis’s grief. But it also showed a misunderstanding between Lewis and his stepsons. He thought they were embarrassed by his grief and did not want to talk about it. However, it was more their education as English men not to show emotion. “Not only 1950s or 60s English men have a problem with that!” She thought.
Gertrud took the book in her hand and observed its cover. A white lily behind the author’s name. One petal flowed down towards the bottom of the cover where it led the eye towards the title of the book. “I always liked this cover. It’s soothing!” Gertrud thought. “But the language is hard to understand sometimes. So old-fashioned.” She stood up and walked over to her oak bookshelf. It took up all the wall to the right of the sofa and made the living room look like a library. Ancient books from German and English poets and playwrights mingled with modern-day magical realism authors. Some non-fiction was thrown in it here and there. She smiled as she put the book back in its place.
This little story was an experiment. I wanted to find out if I could integrate a book review into a story. What do you think?
You can do it!