have to die
in a thousand
just so you can know
inside you still.
And it’s not if, but when. When’s that loss gonna hit? And then it’s how. How do you carry it? All that grief. And don’t even ask why. Why is not a question that grief ever answers.
I only know this because I have my own grief. And I’m not really looking for more, but it keeps coming anyway. And it makes me feel like I’m getting nowhere sometimes, and yet closer to something at the same time.
Maybe that’s because loss doesn’t just take. It gives, too. Like a trade. Like, here I’m going to take this from you but give this to you instead: more space, cleansing tears, better questions, compassion, pathways to the center, maps to deeper wells, less distractions, blankets of darkness, little pools of light under your skin where he touched you but will never touch you again, holes in your heart that nothing but pure love can fill. And then, go. Go into the world and carry these things the best you can. Let them move around and make love messes and surprise you in the mass of bone and blood and skin vessel that you are. Grocery shop with them, chop vegetables with them, go to parties and smile at people with them. Be yourself, only different now, with all that grief.
Like that woman I saw on the beach playing with her dog. The way she stopped and looked at the ocean and folded her arms across herself. I saw her grief then. The way she carried it in her core. Tucked away so people might not notice. But then it snuck up on her, like the ocean was pulling it out of her. And she sat with it for a moment, bowed her head, maybe feeling like it was going to shatter her into a thousand grains of sand before she caught herself and tried to shake it off.
But grief isn’t like that. You can’t just shake it off. It doesn’t ever really leave. It just changes. And it changes you. It shapes you. Your stance, your stride, your ways of loving and being and moving in the world. The things you do and don’t care about anymore.
And there you are twenty years later. Sitting in your car outside the supermarket and all at once you’re paralyzed and can’t go in because a song just came on the radio that reminds you of the person you loved and lost. And the grief that you thought you’d already felt just rises up like an ocean in you. Pummels your heart with waves and pours out your eyeballs like stormwater. And you’re thinking, “All this fucking time and I still feel this grief?” And your body is saying “Yes. Yes you do.”
And you wonder what the point is, then. You wonder if you could find a way to drain those grief waters out of you for good. Only if you could take the air out of the sky and the carbon out of the stars and the forest out of the trees.
You see, we are made of grief. And we are meant to be. It means we’re here. It means we’re alive (even though it can make you feel like you wish you weren’t sometimes). It means we’ve risked. It means we’ve loved and lost and risen and fallen. It means we’ve been unlocked and held open despite ourselves.
And I can’t think of many better reasons than that for being human.
I find comfort in the saddest things.
Like knowing everything I hold dear is already broken sometime in the future.
The beads on my favorite dress already busted and scattered on the ground. The dress hanging in a lonely closet without a body to fill it. My hair already gray. Maybe fallen out. My favorite guitar cracked and rotting in the earth.
Oh, Earth! Beloved, Earth. You’re gone already, too.
I can just see it. Our earth home. Piles of smoldered ruin because maybe she couldn’t take the stress anymore, maybe got too close to the sun, or maybe it was just time to start over. And then what? We have to find another rock to live on. Or maybe just another sky to fly in.
It’s inevitable. The death. The end. The brokenness that we already are.
You with your bones. The way they wrap around mine at night. The way I can never peel away from them easily in the morning. The way your flesh pulses with promise and life and moments that feed more moments that end in death.
Your bones already tumbling to the earth. Returning to where they started. And me, crying over them. Singing over them. My love running, always running to where you are. Crying and singing and longing my way back to you.
Because that’s how it goes. I always seem to find my way back to you.
And yeah yeah, I know that only our bodies die, only the unreal parts of us break, that love lives on and blahblahblah. Trust me, I know all about the parts that live on. I know them well. But that doesn’t make me not love the parts that don’t go on any less.
I love the parts that break. I love your hair and your eyeballs and the dirt under your fingernails. I love the finish on my guitar and the flowers by my mailbox. I love the colors and the tastes and the smells. I love the leaves when they bud, and I get sad when they fall.
And it’s this. Knowing that everything we are in the physical, your blue eyes, my crooked smile, the way your hand cups the back of my neck, the way your spine curves, the way the skin wrinkles around your eyes when you laugh. The love, the touches, the fingers on flesh and flesh on fire sending songs into the darkness. Knowing that we only get to do it this exact way once. Knowing that the costumes we wear and the shoes we walk in and the bodies we kiss are already broken.
Knowing that there is no promise, there is no saying when it’ll be over. Knowing this brings me closer. Drives me deeper. Brings me alive. Makes me burn.
It makes every moment with everything I love that much sweeter.
[ Related Piece: Stealing What's Rightfully Mine ]
But I do. I do look back. Because you’re there. And I need to see you. Because I’m not through with you. I’m not through learning from loving you.
And so I look back. To look for the places that were weak. The places we broke. To see if maybe I could have done something differently. To know. Really really know that I did all I could then. And to know how I can do better now. To see what the breaking revealed.
I look for the places that were strong. The moments written in the spaces between us. The moments that live on even now. The moments that tell me there is still something between our souls. That there was, is, and always will be.
I look back to see those things. To remind myself that even if we failed on the outside, even though we can’t be together now, there is something of us that lives and sings through it all today.
I look back to see the moments your eyes locked with mine and the true blue of them sparkled and spoke to me of knowing and connection. Of path and destiny and ancestors. Of things that came before those moments and things that were yet to come.
I look back to find the pieces I still need. The things I want to carry with me. A touch here. A laugh there. The time we stayed up late in that hot-as-hell little room that summer night talking about dreams and lies and betrayals. The way you looked at me like you needed another glass of wine, but we both knew wine would never touch that pain.
I need to remember the time you said I was sunshine and oxygen and how you felt like I was from another world and that no one ever touched the places I touched in you.
I need to remember the time you wrote that song. The one you said was about her, but I knew it was about me. About the way we changed each other. The way we both knew we’d never be the same. The way you could never really say that. (That was so like you. To hide behind a song.)
I need to remember why we had to move on and how it’s better this way and what I’m supposed to be doing with all of this now.
I need to look back because I need those pieces. Pieces of me that I left there. Pieces that I need to cry about. Pieces that I’m ready to feel now. Pieces that you gave to me that I’ve been refusing to take.
Which makes me think maybe I can stop trying to let go now.
Because maybe it’s not about letting go or trying to get over anything. Maybe it’s about letting yourself feel what you feel and love what you love and do what you have to do to be true. Waking up each morning with an ache in your heart and longing in your bones and then putting one foot in front of the other. Sorting through the pieces as they come and visiting whatever time and place you need to visit in order to do that. Finding that some things fall away and some things don’t. Finding that past, present, or future aside, there’s something bigger calling you on here. Bigger questions to ask and bigger stories to live into and something that keeps singing through it all. Something like soul and longing and love that just. won’t. quit.
I mean, how do you let go of that?
[ Related post: Somewhere In Between: Relationship Edition ]
in your heart
You can do whatever you want with your life and what better time than now to just choose to make it happen!? they say.
I say, whoever said that obviously has no clue how complicated that shit can be, obviously hasn’t lived in the unforgiving cruelty of the barren grief land that dries out your every need, every hope, and every desire before any of them can reach the edge of your parched lips. (What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?)
Oh, the lips. The tongue.
And the heart. The heart! It is resilient, it can go on, they say. But when you are a hollowed out shell of love and loss, your heart just hanging there beat beat beating can feel like such a mockery. An echo of dreams that used to be.
Thump thump thump you are walking you are walking you are walking
without a hope, a prayer, or a savior this time. Because, well… it’s not about those things this time.
(How did it all come to this? Maybe you took a wrong turn? Where did the magic go?)
To die might be a relief, but it wouldn’t take away the great white nothingness that has consumed you, because you can feel how its grasp is relentless. How it reaches far, through the veil to the other side. How it permeates everything. How it nails you to things you can’t see that you might miss if you thought it was only about the things you could see.
How you can’t explain that to anyone else let alone yourself. How every plan, every idea for a way out is a spark that just won’t catch.
No. There is no conceiving. No escape. No way to vision board or manifest or carpe diem your way out of this one. Not this time.
Just your dead legs walking, your heartbeat mock mock mocking, and the faithless, empty white nothing nothing nothing around every corner
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