思念我的爱人 / Recalling My Beloved
2021-11-16 01:05:02 作者：白大诚 By James Whitehead 来源：信德网
Recalling My Beloved
By Jim Whitehead
When your lover dies, the world goes dark. What to do? Call or write dear friends with the sad news. They respond, remembering your partner in ways that increases the pain, but then they recall parts of Evelyn that I had lost sight of or had taken for granted.
Seeking out Evelyn I first see her face, pain-free and lovely in death. Then I try to look past that precious moment to the person I lived with, worked with for fifty years. But I am stopped by the last few years when her memory loss left her drained of much of her vitality. I see a person, once so engaged in the daily writing that was a source of shared joy, now asking “what do we do next?”
I push past these sober thoughts, searching for the girl in those earlier decades of full vigor. And I read the letters from those whose lives had been touched, altered by her presence to them.
Then a world of grace opens up. Several mentioned her posture. Women loved how she carried herself. No one else walked that upright. And this was more than physical; there was a moral posture that was wholly attractive. A long-time friend wrote, “We can still hear Evelyn’s voice from days gone by, so precise, so composed, so joyous. That gift will not be lost.” Another wrote, “my memory is of her vivaciousness, brilliance and commitment…and the two of you so bonded and looking in the same direction.”
The biggest surprise in these letters was the number of women who found Evelyn a powerful mentor. These individuals were often ten or even twenty years younger than Evelyn. They had met a woman who was unapologically herself moving through her days with exceptional grace.
A junior colleague wrote, “Meeting you, Evelyn, a joyful female intellectual, was a revelation to me. You somehow gave me permission to have questions and to pursue those questions. That experience of permission was pivotal in my life and career.” Yet another younger woman: “Delight, hospitality, faithfulness—your modeling of these was and continues to be a profound gift in my life.”
These remarks awakened signature moments in our years of public speaking. While writing together a book on marriage we came across the observation of how many women marry then “diminish into a wife.” Everyone could see that Evelyn was nobody’s “wife.”
Now I remember all the workshops we offered on sexuality. Participants sat in wonder as Evelyn with utter composure spoke of the similarity and difference of sexual arousal in men and women, describing in detail such bodily realities without blinking an eye. And she would give the example of an individual, whether male or female, after a long illness, noticing for the first time another person as utterly attractive and being sexually aroused. Surprised by this return of vigor after a long time, the person might utter, “thank you, God!”
My only moment of doubt arose early in our relationship when she casually mentioned that she had decided not to marry, so far finding no one she ambitioned to spend her life with. I pondered the remark in my heart, then muttered to myself, “we will see.”
Early in our shared career we were discussing with other faculty and students at the Institute for Pastoral Studies at Loyola some question about the style of adult exchange we were attempting. As the meeting came to a close, a woman entered the room, remarking that she had wanted to join the meeting but had remained outside the door, unsure if she was welcome. Evelyn turned to her and responded with great energy, “go through the door!” Everyone was startled at the forcefulness of her response. Evelyn was speaking of all the doors that women for centuries had stood outside of, assuming they were locked.
All these memories light up my grieving heart. I am recovering the one whom I thought was lost.