⟨ Book ⟩

A Way to Deal With Grief

Michael Rosen’s Sad Book

Text and Photography / Ron Lam
Translation / Iris Heung

近午時份,睜著眼躺在床上,該起來了,該起來了,重覆地叮囑自己,但胸口壓著的鉛太沉重,連手腳都抬不起。總有些日子,悲傷突如其來的找上了你,於是時間過得黏黏糊糊混混沌沌,日照格外緩慢,萬物毫無動靜,你的世界只有你和你的悲傷。偶爾你感到悲傷來得沒道理,雖然更多時候,它都是名目明晰的,例如工作不順、家庭的紛爭,又或是,親愛的人離開了你。

Michael Rosen在兒子於18歲突然過世後,寫下了一個關於悲傷的故事,並由Quentin Blake添上插畫,製作成繪本《Michael Rosen’s Sad Book》。故事裡,Michael總是佯裝笑面迎人,然而獨處時卻難以抵禦悲傷的突然來襲。悲傷的源由,有時是關於兒子,有時是因為曾是他情緒依靠的母親的離逝,有時甚麼也不關於。悲傷只是像烏雲般,在晴天萬里之時,飄然而至。

《Michael Rosen’s Sad Book》並不是勵志的心靈雞湯,Michael只是真實地展現了淹沒了他的悲痛情緒那無法名狀的模樣。而且,即使他想法設法對抗著悲傷——告訴自己別人比較苦、每天做一件教自己驕傲的事⋯⋯他始終無法自悲傷中解脫。但最少,長久下來,他學會與悲傷相處的方式,並且在一件事上找到了安慰——他想像著他最愛的生日會,自己或別人的,還有蛋糕上搖搖晃晃的蠟燭光。

書的最後一頁,Michael被溫暖的燭光擁抱著。他獨自一人,伴著他的,只有一個相架,滿滿的回憶。正如他在書中說的,「悲傷」只是他的悲傷,不是其他任何人的。或許正因為此,能為他點起燭光的,也只有他自己。

In the middle of the day, I was lying in bed with my eyes wide open. I kept urging myself to wake up, but something heavy was sitting on my chest that I could not even move my limbs. Those are the days when grief abruptly rises up and plunges you into an intricate sense of time; the days pass so slow, everything feels pointless. You are only left with your own misery. Sometimes such emotions can come up in the most clueless manner, while more often they are linked to simple reasons, such as when the job is not going well, quarrels with the family, or even, having your loved ones departing.

Michael Rosen wrote a story about grief after the loss of his 18-year-old son. With Quentin Blake’s illustrations, Michael Rosen’s Sad Book depicts how Rosen always pretended to be happy in front of others but would be overwhelmed by grief while being alone. The sadness could be attributed to losing his son or the loss of his mother whom he used to emotionally rely on, or there is just no apparent cause. Grief could be like a drifting cloud that suddenly covers you up on a bright sunny day.

Michael Rosen’s Sad Book is not the typical self-help book with the promise of a silver lining. It only chronicles Michael’s grief of the loss and its overwhelming state. Despite efforts to fight the misery by talking to others or doing something that would make him feel proud, he still could not relieve himself from grief. As time went by, Rosen finally learned to live with grief and found comfort by focussing on one event at a time. For example, he would imagine the birthday parties his son would love and the flickering candle lights on the cake.

On the last page of the book, Rosen is illustrated as being embraced by a room of warm candlelight. He is alone with the only companion of a photo frame that seems to bring back bags of memory. As he said in the book, it was only his grief but not anyone else’s. That is probably the reason why, after all, he is the only person who can light up a candle for himself.