To readers who think Stitzel's subject matter might be too painful to attempt, I would say do not miss out on what she has to say. Yes, the book is a sad examination of loss. But Stitzel writes beautifully and offers unexpected gems throughout the book.
For example, she wrote about a friend who reminded her of some good memories. "I imagined him in her vision, recognized and alive, and happiness nuzzled my sadness."
From inside her grief, she also offers readers some bits of wisdom. She and her husband loved to garden and also to walk in wooded areas. "Sensing the air with an insect's precision, I do not feel alone. Spring exists without Bob or me, inevitable in its brevity and its recurrence. Not life, not death, but the improbability of one and the inevitability of the other."
She gives many passages to ponder like this one: "We never know what we'll remember and what we will not be able to forget."
Their son, David, and his family live across the country in Washington state. So Stitzel must maintain her home and vehicle alone in Morgantown. "Grief leaches my confidence, assailing past and future both," she wrote as she struggled to take over the responsibilities she once shared with Bob.
Death brings with it legal demands and plenty of paperwork. She wrote that she was tired of "the whole death business." In frustration, "enough already ... You've been dead long enough. Come home!"
Everyone who has lost someone dear knows the first year is especially painful. Her son's first birthday without his father, Bob's first birthday. In grief's calendar, the dates roll around like they always do, but they serve as painful reminders during grief's famous first year.
Now a single woman, Stitzel was always a singular woman. She knows now she can do whatever she wants with her life, maybe even something she would not have been able to do with her husband. She was frequently honored for her work. She fostered the artistic pursuits of many graduates. Maybe she could strike out into a completely different direction.
But she wrote, "I hate all this freedom."
The book can be purchased from Amazon and from www.wordassociation.com.
Reach Susan Williams at susanwilli...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5112.