Grief is a funny thing. It has this tendency to linger like stale cigarette smoke.
Long after the deed is done, here it is, grief in all it’s fucking glory, sitting on my chest, making it hard to breathe. Causing bile to rise in my throat and sweat to pearl on my skin.
“Keep it together, don’t lose your shit“, I tell myself, not daring to make eye contact with the cashier that will soon scan my books, because she looks like someone who would care enough to ask me what is wrong, or if she can help, or god forbid, look at me with pity.
Can she help? No. No, she can’t. She can’t because this grief makes little sense to anyone. It doesn’t really make sense to me, but at the same time it does.
My grief makes sense because of the cumulation of tragic moments in my life. Tragedy I don’t always remember but tragedies my body doesn’t forget.
So, when people ask what is wrong, I can’t always say. And if I can, I can’t make it make sense to others. So, I no longer try. I grieve by myself in small moments while standing in the checkout line or while making dinner. Sometimes in the shower and often in the still small hours of the morning when my brain likes to wake up and recall all.the.things.
I prefer to grieve alone even though it’s very lonely. I prefer the loneliness because everyone wants words. They flit around asking what is wrong, and what can they do, and what happened. None of which I answer. My grief has no words. And the words that do come, feel too tender to release. As though the very act of forming them in my mouth will crush them into non-existence. So I say nothing.
I cannot cry. I cannot scream. I cannot breathe. My grief feels like I’ve been covered in thick wet cement and I am fighting against it’s hardening because then I will surely die. But it is so heavy, this grief. Lifting my arms and legs to the tune of life’s march is so hard. I’d like to just lie down for a while.
Lie down and feel the prickle of tears that never quite come. I wish they would. I think it would help me feel better. I think they are stuck in the cement. Too thick to come out.
I can cry about a lot of things. Especially nowadays. But not this. This grief doesn’t permit tears. The reason why is part of the grief itself, so that’s a cluster-fuck.
I stand and breathe and try not to vomit. I try not to snap at the rude people around me because why do you have to be such a fucking dick when there is so much heartbreak happening everywhere. Happening here.
Keep breathing. Don’t lose your shit. Just keep breathing.
My brain is supremely unhelpful. It efficiently brings forth everyone who has wronged me and details every possible way someone could wrong me. And the cement gets thicker, and heavier. I’m convinced I won’t make it this time. Grief will finally have it’s way and it will crush me.
Just keep breathing. Don’t lose your shit.
Ever so slowly I can feel the grief recede. This invisible struggle to save my life leaves me exhausted. I have nothing left. Now when I’m asked what is wrong, I say “nothing, I’m just tired” which isn’t quite right but the closest I can come to verbalizing something I have no words for.
It’s at bay for now. And I made it through the checkout. I even talked to the cashier appearing to be a completely normal person having a normal day. I think I pulled it off because she really was the kind of person that would have asked if I was okay.
If she had, I would have told her the same thing, “I’m just tired” because those are the only words that can survive being spoken.