When Gabriel died, someone gave me the image of grief as a road trip. You drive for several hours, maybe you get half way and have to turn around or stop for a while.
This image sort of worked, except there’s not a car, you are walking and there’s no map, which matters less than you could imagine, because there’s not destination when you start on that trip.
This time, this time I thought I would find my own image. I know something of grief, of sorrow. This time I will chart my own course through grief. The image matters because the image tells you when you are done. Not that there is closure, but when you have done enough of the work of grieving to carry on. When you know that you can put down the burden and begin to look around for the next thing. The end of grief is about balance. An image marks the fulcrum.
I thought of my mother as my memories go flying through my head. I think of those memories, understanding they are like clouds, light as air as long as you realize the secret is to watch the memories fly past. Pick up the memories, hold them too long, they evaporate or become as heavy as lead. Stare at the clouds, think of what shapes they might be, use your imagination, and then let them go and reform or simply drift away.
I thought that sorting through the ruins of a dead thing was like sorting holding balls in the air. Juggle sadness and you lose sight of joy. Hold to long onto anger and hurt comes sneaking up to you. I thought I would have gotten to the end when I could see all of them, all at once. That’s the thing, isn’t it? You can’t see all those balls all at once, not when they are moving.
It’s boxes. You pick through all of these boxes. Gradually, over time, you start to consolidate. Betrayal goes into anger. Joy goes into love. Anger goes into hurt, because what is anger but a mix of unmet expectations and betrayals?
Eventually, when you have taken enough time, you consolidate down to one box. It takes as long as it takes. Maybe it will take forever.
Finally, the box goes on the shelf.
People I have loved.