Oftentimes during life or at the end of life, there is a need to believe. The alternative — the void, the emptiness — become too much. Too many loved ones have died. The shotgun awaits. You resist it. You cry out for help.
In memoriam and with personal gratitude to the Christian author C.S. Lewis.
Lewis died on November 22, 1963. My gratitude is for his book ‘A Grief Observed,’ an angry and doubting series of notebooks which he wrote after the death of his wife and in which he questioned his own belief in God.
He even went as far as referring to God as a “Cosmic Sadist.” He was playing devil’s advocate; his Christian faith remained intact.
“We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito.”
American wife, love of his life
Lewis married late in life, in 1956 when he was 58. His wife, Joy Davidman Gresham, was an American writer whose conversion from atheism to Christianity had been influenced by reading Lewis’s books.
Six months after they were married she was diagnosed with advanced cancer.
They thought their prayers had been answered when the cancer went into remission. But their “miracle” was short-lived and the cancer returned. She died in 1960 at the age of 45.
Using the pen name N.W. Clerk, Lewis wrote ‘A Grief Observed’ in 1961.
“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?”
That, to me, is the toughest part of losing a soulmate. I know I will never meet anyone else like my wife — not that I seek that or even want to — and I also I know I will never “find her face, her voice, her touch.”
‘Mad midnight endearments’
I still wrestle with that reality, going on two years since she died. People shake their heads and some scoff but that’s my true feeling and I’m stuck with it.
Lewis echoed my own cries when he wrote about his dead wife. “I cry out for her, with mad, midnight endearments and entreaties spoken into the empty air.”
That one C.S. Lewis book — he wrote more than 30 — in which he questions the existence of God, ultimately coming full circle back to Christianity, has helped me cope with my own wife’s death more than anything else.
So I thank him, much belatedly, for that and I honor his memory.
The Bible is now translated in 700 languages. “This is exciting news,” said James Poole, executive director of Wycliffe Bible Translators.
If there is God, then all is well with life — and death. But if there is no God we are all lost. Life, in the end becomes an empty shell, a cosmic fraud, a godless dirty trick.