I just learned something this week. Something new about grief.
Yep, I’m still on the grief train over here…albeit in “panicked passenger” mode…desperately seeking the drink cart, woo-hoo!
And just to completely derail for a moment, I have been on many trains. We lived in Switzerland during my high school years, and my mom is from a picturesque little town in the alps, Wassen. Wassen is known for its beautiful church that sits out on the edge of a slope. It is also known for the train tunnels and tracks that wind up through the mountains, the Gotthard pass. From the town, if you look up the mountain, you will see the same train pass by 3 times. Each time a rung higher, and each time going in the opposite direction.
Bear with me, because this is incredibly cool. It reveals just how hole-y the Swiss cheese mountains are, and the ingenious engineering. As it progresses, the train does not “circle” the mountain, the train circles within the mountain, doing what is called a double-loop. The tunnels are circular, and climbing. When you are on the train, you don’t even realize that you are performing a complete 360-degree turn within the mountain, because it’s a gradual climb, and it’s dark. Then suddenly you come out of the tunnel, going in the opposite direction. Then back into another tunnel, a steady, curving climb, that spits you out again, going back the other way. My brother and I never tired of this amazing journey and how we’d emerge from the dark going in the opposite direction of what we expected.
You can probably see where I am going with this. Though really, it wasn’t my intention. Before I got on the crazy train, I was going to say this: what I am learning about grief is that even though it sometimes feels like a heavy, immovable, impenetrable wall, a thick cement tomb, it’s not. It’s not immovable. It’s not immobile, it’s not a death sentence.
Though thick, heavy and clingy, it’s actually stretchy, and fits each of us like a glove.
While I never expected to be wearing something like this, covered head to toe in spanx, this new skin is here to stay. And while there are times when I feel suffocated by it, I can see now, that it’s also growing with me, growing on me. I know this because I started pushing against it this week. Testing it. Going through the motions, of change. It pushed back, and I quickly found myself going through the emotions, of change. The painful emotions of starting to make decisions on my own, the painful emotions of making changes for a future that will not include my husband, the confusing emergence from the train tunnel going in the exact opposite direction of what I expected….
But I am doing it. Climbing in the dark, occasionally seeing light, cycling and circling through familiar and unfamiliar terrain. I am doing it, pushing and being pushed, I am going through the (e)motions.
P.S. In case you were wondering what the whole “Harlem Shake” trend is, this performance includes a guy decked out from head to toe in a pink stretchy body suit. And he’s got some moves…
I love your train analogy and I’ve used it myself to describe the widowhood experience but yours is so much better than mine with the switch-backs through the center of the mountains. I can’t believe how incredibly beautiful your ancestral home must be in the Alps!
I’ve heard about the Harlem Shake. I’m glad I got to see a sample. I might even have to try it. LOL
Beautiful. I love/hate the sense of humor that made you post something I can now never get out of my brain! ARgh on Pink Spandex man! I love the train analogy – the way it draws upon deep metaphor as well as childhood experience, and the way you can walk us through your own epiphanies as they come through putting words down! Warm send of support to you on your walk through. I had such a roller coaster week, and your train in opposite direction sums up so much of what can cause a struggle. Your words enforce the concept of trusting the ride for me.
Absolutely beautiful, albeit poignant, analogies, both the train and the stretchy glove. You are a beautiful writer and manage to capture the nuances of your emotions and translate them into words in a very special way.
Thank you… thank you for writing. Thank you for living and for loving and for being.