We talk of the is that was and where it’s gone.
In grief, in suffering, there is a here before, and a now, a was and the is. We can’t claim back what was. We can’t sit in the footprints of the us that was at 10 or 13 or 6. The snowflake changes in the heat of your hand, and even in the cold, is never quite the same again. It’s harder, covered in gloss, but so much easier to shatter.
I’ve spoke of the absolute before-the singular nature of the destruction loss can wreck on us. The straddling of an obscure line. The me before. The me after. A clearer designation-there is none. Your feet can lie in both for awhile, but eventually, before is swept away, until you can barely remember it’s gentleness.
Only forward change. Never back. The sadness in someone’s eyes, the inability to trust, the gaping hole left in us from loss too soon, too unfair, wrong. The timing, like a broken metronome, chiming in the distance a wretched reminder.
Grief is a thing. It crawls inside us like a dream, stretches to touch every inch of our fragility, and casts a net around us, until we are trapped, our fingers entwined. We change, we alter, our skin lies differently, and ever sweet butter tastes so much the worse for the rancid spell in our mouths. Grief is the echoing silence of that missing person, us, who we were, who we were meant to be.
It’s the torture of those around us, altered, bent. I lost both parents that day 20 years ago-my mother to black rot, my father to the agony of losing his love. Grief became neglect, casual, almost mistaken forgetfulness. I watched myself over that line, as the child I was receded in the distance, wistful, not even waving, as I screamed and reached for her. Screaming for what was, what should have been. The balance. What made sense.
Grief is that creature-the one that keeps me awake at 3am, wondering if I would have finished school if she hadn’t of died, wondering if I wouldn’t be sick, wondering if she’d like the me that is. Grief is the thing eating us, all of us, from the inside out somedays, even 20 years later. Grief is the thing that shows me how sweet it all could have been, and how maybe, I wouldn’t have needed to fight for me.
There stands an is. And, a was. I can’t have her back, and I can barely see her, feel her only faintly like a cloud on my cheek. She is gone. They are gone. Our people who were-perhaps they didn’t really exist beyond our hearts.
Grief is the monster that makes us accept that.