Grief knows no timetable. And it’s a sneaky devil: it will creep up on you in an otherwise nice day, and lay you flat out. You won’t know what hit you. I mean it: formerly rosy days will grey, wilt around the edges, and it may take weeks before you remember…Oh! Mom’s gone.
That would be my yesterday.
Today, despite the dreary flatness of the sky, and the lack of sunlight, I’m a little less wilted. At least I understand that grief is here for a visit, and I can’t avoid it. I just have to live through it.
At first, I thought my darkness was the result of all the bad news in the world: flood, drought, blizzard, earthquakes throughout Oklahoma. An ersatz ‘justice’ system that finds treason acceptable in whites, and legitimate protest ‘thuggery’ in people of colour. I’m sick to death of injustice. I might as well be 9 years old again, yelling It isn’t fair! at the top of my lungs…
So I read poetry, which — along with music — almost always makes me feel more human. Probably that whole ‘humanities’ thing. The comfort of beauty is one that almost never fails. Especially when the poem is Matthew Olzmann’s “Letter Beginning with Two Lines by Czesław Miłosz.” Listen: You whom I could not save,/ Listen to me.
There are so many I can’t save. So many lost, starving, injured, unfairly imprisoned. And there are those whom we grieve for whose time really has come: my beloved Mom, who was one of my best inspirations, my dearest friends, my 2nd mother, for so very many years. She definitely was ready to go. And I should be better able to let her: better able to look at her many legacies, all she taught me ~ teaching, mothering, pumpkin pie, in-lawing, love & learning & how to be in the world.
Grief colours all we do while grieving. Breathing is even harder: the chest aches from the heart’s pain. All I do ‘normally’ — when life is brighter, less tinted by the clouds of grieving — is stained w/ this insidious grey grief. Cooking becomes tasteless drudgery; writing becomes whining drivel. Visits w/ loved ones are perfunctory, and I wonder if I need a therapist.
Here’s what I’m doing, this bleak January day of sneaky grief: I’m phoning out for dinner (although I filled a crockpot with chicken & veggies, for tomorrow). I cleaned out a drawer filled w/ junk, which makes me feel pounds lighter. I finished boxing the last of the holiday decorations, and the window is open to the outside again. While the tree is lovely when lit & decorated, the birds & bare, raindrop-strung branches have their own sere beauty. Winter isn’t the flashy season that her 3 sisters are, but right now? It’s the best season possible: the season of quiet, the season of renewal, the season of white & grey & darkest shadow. And that’s just fine.