What a beautiful and unpredictable bitch. You think it's been put to rest and then years later you find yourself silently crying on the bus on your way to work. Logically, everything in your life is fine- wonderful even. You feel good, healthy and happy- and yet you're overcome. An interaction overseen on the sidewalk, the way the light filters through the trees on the first day of spring, or my personal favorite- the smell of a stranger's cologne. And just like that, like a ton of bricks, you're back to that place; tears streaming down your face, a longing that's laid dormant in your heart, bringing you back for the first time in days, months, years- maybe a decade.
In my experience, grief is something that never really leaves us. Like the memories of those we've lost it stays in our heart, making a home in the subconscious, reminding us of the complicated nature of love, and life, and the things that we've "lost". The beautiful complex mixture of what makes life worth living- the inevitability of the inverse.
Like many people, I've lost, and gained a great deal in my young life. My father, my grand parents, in some ways my mother, and most profoundly my home. My relationships have evolved and changed through out the years. Lovers have been gained and lost. Relationships have had to die only to be reborn with a new sense of healing.
I remember being 17 years old. My father had passed away when I was 11 and my dearest friend, my Grandma Jane had just closed her eyes for the final time. Her body had been so frail and I had spent our last moments together wetting her lips with a hospital sponge, whispering all the things I wanted to tell her in her ear as she drifted in and out of consciousness. I used to lay in my bed as my world was spinning out of control and I would envision all of her love and wisdom, all of her strength, and that of my father- being passed over to me. Filling me up with an all encompassing energy, everything I needed to move up, and move on and be anything- everything- that I wanted to be. I would envision a protective golden blanket being drawn up from my toes to the crown of my head, woven together with the love of my ancestors; protecting me from anything that life would throw my way.
And I was no longer afraid.
Grief. It can be both debilitating and empowering, cumbersome and cathartic, and oh how it changes over the years. Growing and breathing with you the more time passes. Grief has been my greatest gift. Through fear of loss, through suffering i've been granted the gift of living my life without fear, and I'm now able to feel- really FEEL- the pain of the world, without it defining the lens with which I filter that world. Channeling it into good. Taking care of others. Seeing the world as so much bigger than myself and SO much bigger than the fleeting moments of pain. Grief has allowed me to be human.
And that is the most beautiful gift of all.