Gwendolyn Glover

Gwendolyn Glover
Westerville, Ohio,
June 19
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * "Remember, remember, this is now, and now, and now. Live it, feel it, cling to it. I want to become acutely aware of all I’ve taken for granted." ~Sylvia Plath


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NOVEMBER 14, 2010 5:09PM

The Night is Far Spent

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  “…primitive people used to watch the sun drop lower on the horizon in great terror, because they were afraid that one day it was going to go so low that it would never rise again; they would be left in unremitting night. […] Somewhere in the depths of our unconsciousness we share the primordial fear, and when there is the first indication that the days are going to lengthen, our heart, too, lift with relief. […] In the Christian Church these weeks leading up to Christmas, this dark beginning of our new year, is also traditionally the time of thinking of the last things, of the ‘eschaton,’ the end.  

The night is far spent. The day is at hand.”  

~Madeleine L’Engle, The Irrational Season


My grandmother, the only one I’ve known, passed away on October 14th, 2010. She died on her 65th wedding anniversary, after saying goodbye to her husband. We had been back in the States for less than two months. I was there at her bedside to say goodbye. To say thank you for having a secret cupboard just for me. Her only granddaughter. For filling it with paper dolls and color pencils and an endless supply of paper. For writing me letter after letter, even as her Parkinson’s Disease made it difficult for her to keep a steady hand.


I was not supposed to be in Ohio at the time. I was supposed to still be in Europe with my husband, but our plans had changed.


*     *     *


Grandma was married in a red dress. At the wedding her mother told the minister that she “don’t want any part of it.” She was afraid that my grandma would drop out of nursing school. She didn’t. But it was against the rules to get married, so Grandma had to continue living in the dorms and keep her marriage a secret.


Grandpa was a conscientious objector. During World War II. He was drafted and the government put him to work in a mental hospital for veterans. Grandpa spent one summer planting trees in Michigan. He and his friend would work harder and faster than the rest of the group so that they had time to read.


*     *     *


I’ve been spending a lot of time with Grandpa, listening to his slow repetition of stories of days long past. I’m unemployed. I have a lot of time to sit and listen. But I’m not listening very well. The noise inside my head is so loud. Voices telling me what a failure I am.


I’m feeling what a lot of you have been feeling for the last few years. A compulsion to curl into the fetal position, safe in your pajamas, watching old movies. The outside world is frightening. I returned from Europe to find my country in shambles. The job market is a bleak place, overrun with desperate people fighting for the same lousy position. With over ten years of pharmacy tech experience, I haven’t been able to get a job.


My family urges me to pray, to trust God. Which is harder for me to do than it was when I was a little girl. Living in this same, small town.


We moved into an apartment, down the street and around the corner from the home of my grandparents and my aunt and uncle. I live two buildings away from my dad and my youngest brother. My other brother, the middle child, and his wife and their three kids live within a ten minute walk away. I’m surrounded by family for the first time in ten years.


I spent the first eleven years of my life just a few steps from here. The apartment complex I grew up in is a long, brick building. I spent hours playing with my Barbies, begging my brothers to not fight, pleading “What would Jesus do?,” and reading stacks of books from the library.


Spending my days at the library, I gorge on their vast collection of movies and books. I stay busy tutoring four students. I recently studied the grotesque in Flannery O’Connor and the American Dream in The Great Gatsby. Now I’m digesting The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird. Reading is my trusted anchor. It keeps me from drowning.


*     *     *


Grandma spent sixty years in this town. She was involved in various organizations. She learned sign language after her children grew up. She volunteered at the local library and the Columbus Colony for the Deaf. She was constantly taking courses in art, creative writing, and Tai Chi. Grandma taught her children and grandchildren how to look at each new day with joy and wonder.


Now she’s gone.




There’s little light in my days. It’s becoming difficult to hold onto the joy of the summer: the days spent in southern France, the discovery and wonder in Brussels, Paris, London, and Edinburgh. I wonder if it was a mistake, to chase our dreams with such passion reckless abandon.


Now we’re here at the beginning and it feels like the end. I struggle to find a reason to get out of bed in the morning. To hunt for a job I don’t want. To clean our empty apartment.


David hasn’t painted in months. I haven’t been writing. We’re caught in a spiral of despair, anger, and bewilderment. Where is the creative spark? Everything is dead.


I struggle with my faith. Yet I find a glimmer of hope in the liturgy. This is the time of mourning and contemplation. This is the season of darkness. We mourn the passing of vivid autumn colors and long days. We surround ourselves with friends and family. We remind ourselves of the harvest—the work of the summer—which will sustain us through the coming months. We look toward the coming of the Christ child. Hope is a faint star on the horizon. We rise up and walk forward.


“The night is far spent. The day is at hand.”







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Glad to see you back, Gwen. You've been missed.
Thanks, Amy. I've missed you lots. (((hugs)))
I'm so sorry to read about your grandmother. It sounds like life has taken some unexpected and unpleasant detours - to say the least. You are so talented and resourceful, I am sure with a little luck things will turn around. Sending good thoughts your way.....
Gwendolyn, I am so sorry for your loss. I have few words of comfort to offer since my eyes have been brimming over with tears all day today. But deep down I believe that although these times feel like endings, they are also beginnings. I am sure of it.
You are still an exquisite writer. Stay hopeful. It's another beginning coming around...xo
This was so hard to read Gwen. I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved grandmother. but you ask "I wonder if it was a mistake, to chase our dreams with such passion reckless abandon?"
No - never. How many NEVER chase their dreams and live to regret it. Yea, this place is in a shambles, but it would have been like that anyway and you would NOT have chased your dreams.
Welcome back, peace & love and "This too will pass".
Gwendolyn, I am so sorry about your Grandmother, what a supreme loss for you, a cupboard all your own, how marvelous a person this was. I am sure you will never ever regret the time on the road with your husband. Have you ever thought how natural a let down this is, to come home and have to start real life, the white naked lightbulb of life. Please feel this is a natural transition and will not last. You will re-group and build a new phase of your life. Trust that. Your spark is too luminous.
PS I hate your new avatar I miss your beautiful face, but I understand this blackness...
Yes, to fetal, movies, retreat from crazy world.

Sorry to hear about your grandmother.

Your piece had this particular meandering, almost disjointed quality I really liked. It seemed to read like the mood you described so well...I hope that makes sense.
As wonderful as it is to see you back, I'm sorry to hear of the loss of your grandmother and the hard times you're facing. A part of it may be a sense of culture shock. I have been through this several times when returning to the states after a long time living abroad. The first time was the toughest and the funk lasted for several months. Keep us posted. Sending good thoughts your way.
A lovely piece of writing and remembrance. Sorry about your grandmother. I know what you mean about the oncoming winter. The harvest time should be glorious, but the darkness seems like a metaphor particularly this year. Peace and joy be to you in the coming holiday season. RRRRR
I am so glad to hear from you, yet with bad news. I'm sorry about your Grandmother, she sounded like a wonderful woman. Traveling, a mistake? I don't know what happened, but many years from now as you type like I do in my night cloths, you may be writing little stories about the smallest things you saw or witnessed. You and David are smart, everything will work out and you might even want to travel to other places. The world is a big place my friend and things are getting better everyday.
Last fall, my brother died--the last member of my small nuclear family, other than myself. I felt adrift: unable to focus, tired, un-engaged in or by anything (except writing). And work was virtually nonexistent, making for a very, very lean winter. It passed. It all passed. Write the stories in your heart: the stories of your intrepid grandmother and hard-working, hard-reading grandfather. The stories of those colorful summer days that taught you and David how to live. You will be energized; you will be rejuvenated. It is not the end times, it's just another difficult road.

Bless you, Gwen. Keep the faith: in yourself, in the two of you, in your spirit.
Thank you, Ann. :)

Joan, hope is all I'm clinging to.

trilogy, your words mean a lot to me.

rita...a natural transition...I like that. I'm going to think about that for awhile. Oh, and the black avatar wasn't on purpose. I was trying to change my photo and this is what came up. Weird.

Beth, I tried to make the piece more cohesive, but it refused to be tamed. So I let it be. I'm glad you liked the meandering.

cartouche, thank you for reminding me that we're not alone in feeling like this.

Thank you, Bernadine.

scanner, stories, yes. that's what keeps me going. Now if only I could start writing again.

Veronica, thank you for your kind words.

Pilgrim, I'm sorry to hear about your brother. I'm glad that you wrote through the pain. It's what I need to do as well.
Wow, Gwen . . . I am so sorry to hear about your Grandma. I can only imagine dealing with that grief while surrounded by floods of old memories, and people with whom you haven't spent much time in years past. I don't know if I would have the strength to do what you're doing, but I wish you much peace and healing . . . and hopefully a job that you don't hate!
After reading your Christmas post and noticing Westerville, OH as your location, my first thought was "wait a minute, when did you move from Chicago?" So I started reading your posts and looking for the answer.

I'm so sorry to hear about your grandmother. I missed this post when it went up. Parkinson's is a horrible way to go. It took my Dad three years ago.

Is settling into Ohio getting any easier? I hope you'll write more soon about how you're doing. Hugs to you.