Grief, revisited

Eat. Or at least try. Sleep properly. Or at least try. Get some rest, read a book, escape in words to forget those lodging themselves in your head, unwilling to move.

I had these very words been said to me, by the very people who love me, their love their unique consolation to my pain. I’ve seen their eyes, pleading with me, willing me to be ok, willing me back to life, firmly anchored by their love.
Stay here with us, we’re losing you.
I know how they felt, as I have myself said those words to people I love, my love trying to bind them to life, refusing to let them go too deep in the pits of depression, and grief and sadness. I’ve urged loved ones to rest, to quell the never ending stream of suffering going through them. I pleaded, my eyes were the ones willing them to be ok.
Eat. Sleep. Rest. Is that all there is left when all is said and done, when you’ve been knocked off your balance so hard you feel the emptiness and the heaviness of the world deep within you, the anxiety coiled deep within your heart? Take out what and who made us who we are, take out the people who’ve helped build you and all you have left is a wounded animal who needs to eat, sleep and rest.
But no matter how coated in love these words are, no matter how well intentioned, they remain utterly useless, for grief doesn’t work that way. Once you’ve been hit by grief, it never leaves you, it makes a permanent mark on your skin, etching its passage in wrinkles, tears and frowns, as if it were carving the rocks of a conquered land. You expand to live with it, to accommodate it in your swollen heart.
Most of the time it is dormant, lurking at the surface, waiting for a smell, a song, a place to rear its ugly head and send your precarious balance off the tracks. Grief nestles itself in your chest and never lets go. You never forget. You learn to walk around with a neverending, incommensurable hole at your core, the shape of the person you miss. All these cracks on your once whole façade let in a lot of light, probably the ones who’ve made the final jump letting you know from now on they’ll be your light, your inner strength.
Grief is one of the few experiences where words don’t help, where they can’t break the barrier loss creates. You withdraw within a place buried so deep within yourself you end up wondering if you’ll ever be able to find your way back out.
But some things help. Some things get through you and bring you back to life, like ugly crying nestled in the shoulder of a lover, the indestructible power of women friendships, all of them building a protective wall around you to shelter you until the rawness subsides, each of them going out of their way to see a smile upon your face. This isn’t squad dynamics, this is the very particular understanding and acknowledging experience of pain women have, for better or worse.
Love and time and the iron clad belief that the people who left are loved, and thus still there, safely kept in your heart.
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Gone

Every time
I think about this fateful day

My heart gives a jolt

Disbelief is still here

Lodged in my brain

Like a permanent bullet

Are you really gone?

It’s been a year, 

But the feeling is the same

A punch in my gut

A sharp tug at my heart

A quick draw of my breath 

Grief

That monstrous beast

Remains here

Curled up in me

Awaiting

A moment of weakness

To rear its ugly head 

Are you really gone? 

I’ll take you with me

I’ll take you with me. To all the places you wanted to see, to all the streets you wanted to walk, sunsets you wanted to catch and salty air you wanted to breathe.
I’ll take you with me. 
No matter how short your life was cut, no matter how little time we had together, I’ll tuck you safely in the folds of my heart and carry you with me wherever I go. 
From the rocky shores of Sardinia to the throbbing bazaar of Istanbul, from the dusty corners of Jerusalem to the pristine beaches of remote islands, I’ll go and kiss each of these places for you, I’ll bow my head to their mighty suns. I’ll take you with me. 

When the enormity of all that has been lost hits me with the deadening weight of finality, when my lungs fill with the lead of grief, when I feel myself falling in a never ending pit of pure sadness, I’ll dust myself up and summon your light, the unextinguishible flicker you’ve left in me. 

For you see, to me you’ve never really left, you only shed a painful shroud that was binding you to this place, and are free as can be, free to come with me, to be with me in every drop of salty water and every corner of dusty buildings, free to kiss away that salty water running down my face, your radiant love warming me from inside. 

Bind me with that love. Just once more.

And I’ll take you with me. 

The Minute After

She sat, her hands folded on her lap. She looked like she might have been praying, I wouldn’t know, I was never really good at that sort of things.

I wanted to comfort her, I really did, except it seemed I had forgotten how to breathe. I was drowning in liquid air, barely aware of walking, a rough buzzing had filled my ears, and only one thing was clear: I had to get to her, I had to make sure it had really happened. That it wasn’t all a terrible nightmare.

She sat, her head bent down, she seemed to be folding onto herself.

I tasted something salty, it might have been tears.

Around us, only shadows. Slivers of people running around, cries, orders being given, chaos. Around us, white walls and red tears.

She sat, and I wondered why I was still clinging on to the hope that it had not happened. She just sat there, her hands folded on her lap and her head bent down, and it was like every bone she had was crumbling under the sheer weight of everything she had lost today.

She just sat there, her hands folded on her lap and her head bent down, she sat there in silence; she needn’t speak anyway, her body was screaming for her, her whole posture a deafening scream of denial and despair.

And when I reached her, I put my head on her hands, these hands folded on her lap, and I buried myself in that screaming body, and at that moment, at that very second, our two beings were merged by the hands of grief. Unspeakable, piercing, never-ending and unadulterated grief.

I don’t know for our long we buried ourselves in each other. When we left, the shadows were still running, we were discharged into the grilling sun while we left her to the cold claws of death, forced as we were to carry on living.

How do you keep on fighting, when the ties tethering you to life have been severed?