Swallowing Grief Whole

Death. It’s a thing.

I have lost people to death, both before I could really understand it and after. My first encounter is just but a snippet. I am not even sure if she died that particular day, but I remember seeing my great-grandmother collapse on the floor. I don’t recall seeing her after that. When I was sixteen (or thereabouts), my grandfather died. It stung and I didn’t quite understand why, but I pushed it down, until I couldn’t.  In the last few years, I have lost others, and due to recent events of one in particular, I have been stuffing and stuffing grief down whole. Death. (sigh) It’s a thing.

The moments in my life when death happened, and I had a grasp of its meaning, I found a way to squash whatever I was feeling. Business first, tears later my grandmother says. Only, I am not so sure my tears ever came.  The business of caring for others or filling out paperwork or going to work or taking care of children, or any number of regular, mundane activities that could have waited until I grieved, always came first. Tears never came. With the end of 2018 barreling its way toward closing time, I think the grief I have swallowed is finally catching up. Its closing time, the music is lowering and the lights are about to come on. What was hidden is about to become ugly, real quick.

Enter the ugly. I am just now allowing the thoughts of loss to come. Along with it, unfortunately, comes the thought of expiration dates. It is completely terrifying to know we all have one, yet we have no clue when it is. I am seeing The Kids differently, Young Gun, and my parents. I am filled with fear of loss and all that follows. I feel like I should cling to them, keep them hostage. No open doors. No adventures. No living. I just need them close. I need to smell them and touch them. I need to know they will be okay, always. With every new day, my fear grows and grows. It is little now. I can tell. But it will grow if I don’t figure out a way to regurgitate this grief—all of it.

Death. It’s a thing. It leaves behind the grievers with no clear path to wellness. Our questions cannot be answered. Only vague assumptions can take the place of answers. Only tall tales by those who choose to make themselves look like heroes. The other side is heard nevermore. It’s a thing. A scary, inevitable, colorless, odorless thing. Grief is the only payoff from such an unfair transaction, but it, too, is a thing. A scary, inevitable, colorless, odorless thing. It is a real, whole thing. It should be ingested one piece at a time. Lesson, unfortunately, learned.

~SM

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