A Few Quick Words About Grief
I’ve been caught up in an inner debate.
You guys out there in the Blogosphere know the drill: “Do I write about this or not? Is it relevant to my audience? Is it just going to be, you know, a distraction?”
The answers are: Yes. Who knows? Maybe, but it might be a meaningful distraction.
We recently lost a good friend to pancreatic cancer. Very, very recently.
He was one of those amazing people who you would say are fearless, except I don’t think he was even afraid to be afraid. Definitely not in any way afraid of his feelings. The kind of guy who makes things happen; the kind of person who brings the party. A beautiful man gifted with the heart of a child and the mind of … oh, I don’t know, Quentin Crisp? Someone sharp and smart and sassy. He was dear and droll and funny and sweet and caustic and we loved him, and I didn’t even realize how much until now. He was a little older than Denis: too young for this.
Evidently I met him once before the memorial service for his first husband, but I am remiss in that I don’t remember it. I remember every moment we spent with him after that, though: first with him, then with the man who would settle into his life like … oh, I don’t know. Like a photon falling on some retinal pigment that has at last recovered from its most recent bleaching, activating it, giving it purpose again.
They became a couple that lit up every room they entered. The party they threw on the anniversary of the first husband’s death became one of the highlights of my adult life. The last dinner we had with the two of them — just them and the two of us, lingering on the deck in the late, golden summer light — is another one.
Grief is a difficult thing. I am not afraid or ashamed to admit that it is, for me, entirely selfish. Death is no great trial to the one who passes on. It’s the rest of us left behind that find ourselves hurting, aching, trying to figure it out.
How can someone I have only known for a couple of years, someone I saw so rarely, occupy such a space in my heart as this?
Denis pointed out to me that grief is a funny thing. You never grieve only for your immediate loss; rather, all the great losses of the past are stirred up again. I think he might be on to something.
I did not expect to find myself suddenly (and, I must admit, unsuccessfully) choking back tears in Chem Lab. I did not expect to be so off or so distracted or to take this so hard.
I didn’t think about it much at all during the weekend. For me, when things do strike me this deeply, they just sneak up, catch me unaware.
At the end of the day, grief, like everything else, is what it is. Pop psychology notwithstanding, there is no easy formula; no neat process by which we can check off all the boxes and be done.
In a sense, it is never done: instead, you learn to live with it, maybe even to make peace with it. Then every now and then some new grief comes along and stirs up the bottom.
That’s life. It’s okay. It, too, is what it is.
I don’t know what else to say about this, so I guess I’ll stop here.
I hope the bikes on the other side are awesome, and that the rubber side always stays down.