Grief, I’m slowly learning, is a process.
I am sometimes a victim of my own projection. I often let my mind wander off too far into the distance, willing myself to reach a point in my life where everything hurts a little less. Then I slowly reel myself back to shore. I know that I can only reach that point, that island in an unimaginable sea, if I travel through each stage of my own grief bit by bit. It is very much a ‘one day at a time’ process.
Grief has become my enemy and my friend. I was hoping that we would never meet in my lifetime (at least not this early on in my life). But Grief had other plans. He watched me from the shadows, watched the perfect life I had created and felt that I needed to be shown the cruelties it still had to offer. I don’t know why. Maybe it was just my time.
Life took my daughter from me. Grief was on hand to show me how much it hurts.
Grief has become all consuming. At times it has immobilised me. I am not ashamed to say that some days I have struggled to get out of bed. Some days I haven’t bothered at all. Some days I have sat alone in Evalyn’s room and cried at the blank walls. Not completely alone, perhaps. Grief is always there to keep me company. He pats me on the back, quietly smug with himself that he has completely broken me for yet another day.
Others have met Grief. Others have got to know him, some for a short period of time, others for longer. But right now, I feel like he wants to be my best friend because, try as I may, he just won’t leave me alone.
Grief lies next to me in bed at night.
Don’t go to sleep, Grief whispers. Think of Evalyn, Remind yourself how much you miss her.
Grief is there when I wake up in the morning.
Good morning, Grief greets me. What are your plans today? Shall we stay inside and think of Evalyn? Shall we think about how much we miss her?
Grief accompanies me and Ieuan on the school run. He makes sure that there is a convenient love song playing on the radio when I clamber into the car – the sadder, the better. He reminds me sometimes as I’m about to eat that the pinching feeling in my stomach isn’t hunger, but misery. Too many meals have been wasted because of him.
Grief doesn’t like Happiness all too well. They’re always fighting with eachother, unable to find a common ground. But sometimes, just sometimes, they’ll work with eachother and find a balance and for one beautiful day, I am granted a slither of peace. It is in those moments that I realise that Grief is not actually trying to break me completely.
Grief has a ‘tough love’ approach that can sometimes be hard to fathom. But grief is not always my enemy. Sometimes I am so blinded by my own downfall that I cannot see that Grief, in his own little way, is actually trying to help.
You need to think of Evalyn, Grief tells me. I am not trying to stop you from sleeping. I am not trying to make your days harder. I am simply trying to help you heal.
Grief is not all bad. He’s actually quite smart. He knows that the only way I can build myself up again is to be broken down to the shell of my former self. And he knows that this will happen gradually over time. That’s why he’s so good at “Hide and Seek”. Some days he is there in all his glory. Other days he disappears completely. I try looking for him, believing that I should be able to find him and not quite understanding why I can’t. I think to myself that maybe today is the day he has moved on.
Maybe today will be the day when we bid eachother Goodbye and he finds himself a new best friend. And just as I become comfortable with the idea of a long distance relationship with him, he jumps up from behind Hope, exclaiming SURPRISE, and knocks me over to the ground again. I am so angry at him sometimes for doing this. I scream at him to leave me alone.
I cannot leave you, he tells me, Not just yet. You have to rise and fall with the waves of my ocean. You have to swim, you have to sink. You have to splutter on the swirling water before coming up for air. You have to lose your voice in the storm before finding it in the sun that splits the skies. You have to become weak before you can become strong. I am not trying to hurt you . . . .
I am trying to make you see that you ARE strong. There is an island in my ocean just for you. One day you will reach it. But you will have to fight to get there. You will have to journey far and keep paddling. You will fall off of your raft many times, but you will clamber back on board and you WILL make it. You just need to believe in yourself like I believe in you. I, Grief, will make you strong.
The next day he shows me a sunrise so beautiful I begin to see the beauty that life has to offer again. He reminds me again how much I miss Evalyn and my heart aches a little, wishing she was here to bathe in the morning glow of another day with me. But he also makes me thoughtful. Hopeful yet again.
I know that me and Grief have a long way to go. Who knows, he may even become a life long companion. Over time, maybe he’ll realise that I don’t need him as much as he needs me and he may take more time away from me and my life, popping by for visits every so often like a distant family member. But in a way, I am content with Grief being in my life. Grief is slowly rebuilding me into a stronger person. Yes, it hurts. But I know he means well.
He is only trying his best to piece me back together again.
My enemy, and my friend.