It’s been quieter around here. I’ve been going to yoga, working on my strength. Healing my body. Calming my mind. Trying to take it one day at a time, keeping anxiety at bay. Like the light dusting of snow just barely covering the sidewalk this morning, just barely covering the dangerous icy patches underneath, I am lightly treading the path of grief…for now.
This time of year is tough in the Midwest. Everyone else is posting pictures of spring, the catalogs show women wearing sandals…we’re getting a snow storm. The simple act of stepping out your front door is treacherous, there’s black ice on the sidewalks, you can’t decipher wet from slick. Most people don’t even walk their dogs. The worst part is that your body remains in a constant state of anticipation, hunched over from the cold, wound tight like a spring ready to absorb a fall. I haven’t been able to turn my head to the left for months. Though I am not sure who to blame, winter, grief, or my job.
My husband’s birthday is coming. This Saturday he would have turned 40. I’ve invited some friends to meet up at his favorite restaurant. I am trying to keep it light. But I wonder at this delicate snowfall, how long it will last, what kind of a face plant awaits. I slipped this morning because my dog gave a quick yank. I didn’t fall, but the anticipation of it brought tears of rage and frustration rushing to the surface. My true emotional state, the one underneath the spring snow, revealed. Still extremely fragile, prone to cracking, definitely not solid. I need to remind myself of this.
I don’t “know” how to grieve. I don’t know if it’s “right” to try and keep things at bay. Though I think at times you have to, or the mind would go crazy. My mind has been raging ever since he died, rattling against the inside of my skull like an enraged prisoner. That’s why I write. Trying, somehow, to direct the madness. But I wonder, would it have been better if I could have gone some place, like a “grief asylum”? Where I could have screamed, thrown myself against walls, hurled shit around, destroyed things, smashed things, letting what is inside, confined to the walls of my body, come tearing out? For days, weeks, months, however long it took to release? Would it have helped?
I think it might have…but that’s not how things go down now, for grieving people. And I am not sure it would be right, to lock us crazies away. It’s important to somehow – in any way possible – stay connected to the real world. And maybe, if given the option, I would not have followed such abandonment of my emotions. Maybe if given the raw tools, like sledgehammers and chainsaws, for destruction, the rage wouldn’t even have come. It might have pooled, like it does now. Settling down, lying low, freezing over to become a tricky ice slick, lying in wait for a vulnerable moment.
I’ll take this for what is, this grief. I might not know, in my mind, how to grieve. But my body knows. Over and over, it keeps teaching me to honor the hard edges, and the soft ones, that a light, hopeful spring snow is something to be cherished for what it is, if it covers the dark cracks (and we know they are there), for even a moment. Keeping me on my toes. Keeping me attuned to this delicate life, into which he was born, 40 years ago.
The ice under the dusting of snow is a good analogy for how close to the surface emotions can stay and how dangerous they can be. The real ice, too. I’m so sick of winter and have taken to wearing ice fishing spikes on the bottoms of my shoes to walk outside.. But spring in coming both outside and in our hearts.
Funny you should bring up sledgehammers and chainsaws. I read an article—a serious grief article that actually said widows shouldn’t use power tools. I was flabbergasted by that bit of “grief advice” and yes, it was written by a man.
My thoughts will be with you on Saturday.
There is no right way to grieve. No wrong way. No one way. There is only your way and my way and that person’s way. And they are all valid and real and true.
My grief hides itself until I’m alone at night. Then it comes out in great gasping sobs, Painful twists of my insides and tears that burn….
But both are very real paths…
As always, you’ve managed to say something so complex in a beautifully straightforward way. I don’t think there’s any “right” way to grieve anymore than there’s a correct length of time. It’s just what we have to go through, each day, in all its permutations.
I wish there was a Grief Asylum. Birthdays are really tough. I’ll be thinking of you on Saturday.
Keep at it. I have to say, I love that you are healing in amazing ways. Those dates are so tough, because you are right, no matter how we try, it we never can escape it (even 11 years later). I love watching ‘you’ through this process, almost like a mom with her bear cub. 🙂