Grief is …
“Grief felt fourth-dimensional, abstract, faintly familiar. I was cold.”
Grief feels multi-dimensional, concrete, and terribly familiar. I am cold. Always cold.
“But, I thought, in support of myself, everything has changed, and she is gone and I can think what I like.”
Yes, everything has changed. He is gone. But I can’t think what I like. I don’t know what I like. Sometimes I like the things that I used to like. I feel the way I used to feel. Sometimes I don’t like anything. And I feel I can’t like anything. Not the same way. Maybe more, maybe less.
“The house becomes a physical encyclopedia of no-longer hers … She was not busy dying, and there is no detritus of care, she was simply busy living, and then she was gone.”
The world is a physical void of ''it-used-to-be him’’s. He was full of life, limping when he couldn’t walk, rolling when he couldn’t limp, swallowing when he couldn’t chew, smiling when he couldn’t laugh. He didn’t know how to die, so he was living. When he couldn’t breathe, he was gone. Leaving behind a detritus of pain.
“I will stop hearing her breathing.”
I liked to listen to his breathing. I always had difficulty sleeping – I couldn’t sleep without earplugs, even when I was sleeping alone. I didn’t need earplugs when I was with him. His breathing was soothing. Hypnotising. But not that day. It wasn’t even him breathing. It was methadone. Slow, rhythmic, artificial. I wish I could have put my earplugs in. I couldn’t as we were waiting. Then the methadone stopped breathing.
“I want to be there again. Again, and again. I want to be held, I wanted to hold.”
But I know that I can’t be there again. He would never hold me again. No one can ever hold me like that again. Will I ever be able to hold someone the same way again? Will I ever hold someone again?
“I missed her so much that I wanted to build a hundred-foot memorial to her with my bare hands. I wanted to see her sitting in a vast stone chair in Hyde Park, enjoying her view. Everybody passing could comprehend how much I miss her. How physical my missing is. I miss her so much it is a vast golden prince, a concert hall, a thousand trees, a lake, nine thousand buses, a million cars, twenty million birds and more. The whole city is my missing her.”
I miss him so much that I want to rip the whole world apart with my bare hands. Leave no memorial behind. Leave no living soul behind. I would take their eyes out so that they couldn’t see anything. Not my missing. Not me. Not the world as it is. That is how brutal my missing is. I miss him so much I can’t even remember him. Picture him. Hear him. A dark hole. Full of crawling bugs. Climbing onto me. Flowing through my cavities. Suffocating me. Blinding me. Slowly. Killing me. The whole world is killing me. Life is killing me.
“We used to think she would turn up one day and say it had all been a test.”
I would have liked to think he would turn up one day and say it had all been a bad joke. But I know he won’t. I know it’s not. He is in a green urn. Buried under a beautiful stone. A stone, nonetheless. On the right-hand corner of a yard. In a cemetery. Behind a chapel. In a now-so-ugly, oh-so-ugly city.
“Moving on, as a concept, is for stupid people, because any sensible person knows grief is a long-term project. I refuse to rush. The pain that is thrust upon us let no man slow or speed or fix.”
Moving on? I haven’t even started to move! Am I stupid? Am I normal? Am I sensible? Do I know grief is a long-term project? Did I say project? Is grief a “project”? How does one handle that project? How does one do grief? The pain that is carved into my soul, my whole being, will never leave me, so how can I speed up, or slow down, or fix it? How do I live with it? How do I move with it?
Move on? Come on!
*All quotations are from Max Porter, Grief is the Thing with Feathers, Faber and Faber, 2015.
© Ahval English
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.