Grief

Grief is an intimate, intricate feeling. Love, at times, is a sheet of glass, smooth and clear and perfect. Grief is the hairline crack, like the threads of a spider’s web. Delicate, dangerous ribbons threaten the integrity of the glass, spreading across the surface until the perfect glass shatters into millions of shards. Nothing is left but to get a broom and sweep together the slivers of a once beautiful thing, dumping the bulk into the waste bin and knowing – knowing! – that on some Spring day filled with sunshine and hope you will step on a sliver and limp, bleeding, to the kitchen. Wounded again. Forced to root around your foot with tweezers to find the offending slip of grief that has invaded your life again, a bitter reminder of that crystal love now dead and gone, tilled under in a landfill of ruined hopes.

Losing the thing you love – the idea you based your life on, the person you planned your dreams with – makes you want to scream, STOP! STOP! STOP!The world spins on as though you have not suffered the injustice of having your chest ripped open, heart and entrails torn out and set to rot in the open air. And all the well-wishers come like carrion to pick at you as you suffer and long to die.

It’s stifling how small we become in the middle of grief. We find that the world does not, in fact, revolve around us and the world will not, in fact, cease to spin if we cease to function within it. We learn that the time on the clock will continue to tick, tock, tick, even as we scream for surcease and just a moment,a moment please God a moment, in which to seek out any thought that doesn't immediately bring a deep, burning pain. A moment. Please.

Driving home from the hospital after the death of a parent, sitting in your silly car among all the silly people who are going about their coffee and donuts and NPR, as if every world and every story in it were cheerfully spinning toward a happy ending. There you sit, barely able to breathe, feeling the rejection of every happy person because there, in your heartache and the desolation of your person, you are, and can only ever be, alone.

No network of friends and family will get you through a lifetime of an empty bed, empty arms, or a single plate set at the breakfast table. No one can help you reconcile how you have less laundry to do and fewer dishes to wash and how you wish, for just one moment please God, that you had a reason to complain about the ridiculous amount of dishes and laundry. Or someone to complain to about the dishes and laundry.

Grief is an explosion. Grief makes you want to run, hard and far and fast until your lungs and legs give in to your desperate need to be nowhere near the source of your hurt. Can you outrun yourself? No. You can run and flee and fight through the trees and trails and mountains. You can stand at the top of a peak, arms flung wide and scream your grief and agony until your throat is raw and bleeding; until your lungs and heart must inhale the cold air. With that breath you are reminded of the unshed tears and throbbing ache of loss and you scream again, louder, more visceral and heathen: a growling, shriek that starts in your bones and flies like fire and ash, erupting from your body with scorching destruction. Only you are betrayed again, and draw breath and with it the shuddering terror of pain. No matter how far removed from civilized behavior, the grief clings to you and soaks in.

Pain will live on with you until you are dead.

Grief is an implosion. Grief drags you home, through the garage door and into the entryway, up the stairs and into your room, shutting the windows, shutting the door and blocking the crack at the bottom of the door to keep out the insistent yellow-gold light. Sitting on the floor in the corner, in the dark, alone – so completely alone – you wonder how small you can make yourself before you cease to exist. How tightly can you curl your legs and wrap your arms. Perhaps if you are small enough the haunting angel will pass you by, never-minding you.

But, no. There, in the dark, alone, your grief has followed you like a shadow and now the shadow fills the room you hunker down in, filling all the corners with the suffocating oppression of “never again.”

Never. Again.

You think about his blue eyes peering over a coffee cup as he reviews the menu, as if he won't order the Eggs Benedict. Never again.

The way his hand rested on your back when you walked through a door, warm and comforting and safe. Never again.

The soft breath on your ear as she whispered a secret message at dinner, and you could hear the smile on her lips. Never again.

The way her hair fell on your face as she leaned over you, as you unclipped the tortoise shell comb from her long black tresses. Never again.