Grief is stealthy. He has lurked around the corners of my heart for so long, I suppose I imagined he might stay there, in the shadows of my memories. Instead, Grief has been stalking me, waiting for the exact
Sometimes, Grief doesn't even wait for me to stumble into the room and shut out the rest of my world, for just one. blessed. moment. He just swoops in from nowhere and if I'm not fast enough, he'll pull me into his strangely seductive embrace before I've even taken my next breath.
That's how Grief rolls. Grief sucks ass. Grief colours the edges of every happy moment, whether I realize it then or later, remembering.
Grief is like that relative who comes to every family event, invited or not, and who sits so quietly in the corner you forget he's there, until you go to pour a drink and realize he's been helping himself and now your favourite beverage is all but gone.
Oddly, I've discovered that I can't even get really, really mad at Grief, not like I did a few years ago - PHEW, that was unexpected and uncomfortable for everyone - because that's just his nature and he's been a part of things for so long, it would actually be weird if he stopped showing up.
I have managed to mostly ignore Grief this year, instead of letting him simply take over at the beginning of January.
This year, I tried to stand up to Grief. I got all huffy and puffy and wagged my finger in his face: "You know what, Grief? I have things to do and people to love and I refuse to let you drag me through your mire. I have a LIFE to live here, Grief and it's a busy one. I'd appreciate a little bit of breathing room this year, if you don't mind."
|Photo courtesy of helpforthehurting.net|
For awhile there, it seemed that Grief was listening. I marvelled at my sense of well-being, took occasional stock of my heart, found it strong and full - nary a glimpse of Grief.
Around the end of January though, I began to fret. Grief would be here soon and I needed to be ready, needed to get my house and my heart in order. So, I called him out, late one night. (It's the best time to let Grief in, he's usually eager to visit once the children are sleeping and it's dark and I'm feeling sentimental.)
I decided on a direct, no-nonsense approach: " Listen Grief, I know I'll be seeing you in February - do you know yet whether you're arriving early or will you show up on the 10th exactly?"
Grief didn't answer, which I decided was a good thing. Grief, I thought, was allowing me to set the terms for our relationship, letting me form the boundaries to guard my own heart and giving me a chance to start the new year unbent, whole, not hollow.
And I suppose, in his way, he DID allow me to move through the first 9 days of the shortest month without being too clingy. Oh sure, he accompanied me on a few more car rides than I'd prefer, but he only stuck around through the playing of the songs that remind me of Andrew and I LOVE those songs, so I didn't mind so much.
And he's popped up in unexpected places, too: My parents pinned a photo-button of Uncle Andrew playing hocked onto Luke's lunch pack and though surprised, I was delighted to see it. For a moment Nostalgia swirled about as I let my fingers move across that button, remarkinghow MUCH Luke reminds me of Andrew, before Grief swooped in stomped out all the happy.
Grief crept into my heart's house yesterday morning. Early, while I slept, defenseless and pliant. I felt him whisper through my dreams but chased him off - I thought - with a celebration for two of my favourite mamas, carrying boys in their bellies and dreams in their eyes.
Ignored Grief peering round the corner as I dressed for a night out with my Across-The-Road-Neighbours and then pretty much slammed the door on Grief's face as we crossed the threshold of a home filled with laughter and friendship and delicious beverages...
Grief - that fucker - snagged me as I wrapped a warm and sleepy Luke in a blanket for the walk across the road to his own waiting bed. I leaned in to kiss his flushed cheek and was struck - again - by his eerie resemblance to Andrew and suddenly, like a freight train, Grief thundered in.
In fact, Grief draped himself so heavily on my heart, I had to sit on the stairs awhile, cradling my sleeping son, just so I could breath. Grief followed me into sleep, taunting, dancing through my dreams and filling my throat with lumps so huge I could barely swallow.
When I awoke this morning, Grief waved from across the room, eager to greet the day: "It's February 10th! Here I am, despite your best efforts to avoid me. You didn't really think I'd let this date pass without a visit, did you?"
I hate today.
I miss my brother.