1. Grief is something you never get over, you just get used to it. Nine years ago today, Kelly died. Losing her is inextricably linked, in my heart and mind, to losing Obi and then Dexter — one big sticky sharp heavy lump of hurt. It’s been ten years since Obi and Kelly were first diagnosed, practically on the same day, and ever since then, I’ve carried around a deep sadness, a brutal tenderness, an awareness that not only is impermanence real, but it sneaks up on you when you aren’t expecting it, way before you are ready, (although, in many cases there’s no such thing as “ready,” ever). Yes, we all die eventually, but some of us go way too soon, and the hurt of that might dull but it never goes away.
2. The worst part of grief for me is the uncertainty. I envy people who have strong beliefs about what happens after we die, who feel sure, who can comfort themselves with platitudes like, “they are in a better place” or “someday we’ll see each other again.” I don’t have this, and honestly the worst part of losing Kelly and Obi and Dexter is that I might NEVER see them again. Living with that reality is the worst part of the loss for me.
3. Grief is love unbound by form. Susan Piver is the one who I first heard say that. It’s absolutely true. We are used to having a physical target for our love, a tangible form we can reach out and touch. When suddenly our love doesn’t have that place to land, it goes wild. No longer is there a voice we can listen to, a hand we can hold, a face we can gaze at. It’s hard to know what to do. The love and even the relationship remains, but the body is gone. We love and we love and we love, but in response there’s only silence, emptiness, what feels like nothing.
One wish: That after loss, we can find something to hold on to, something that keeps us from giving up. At the very moment I wrote the line above about our love going wild, a tiny fat hummingbird hovered outside my window just to the right of my computer screen. That feels like love to me, like both magic and medicine, and for now that’s enough.