Stubborn Loss with its Foliage, and its Thorns
Today is too quiet in my town.
I’ve known a lot of loss in my life.
In between the folds of experiences, I stew in the contradictions.
It’s there, while I stew, that I uncover my patience for contradiction, as I sift through layers of observations.
Among them, a sigh filled comment.
Maybe we need to learn to write as if we aren’t completely right, or completely wrong.
Perhaps grief mutes us for so long precisely because of its destruction of manicure.
It strips us down.
Not to our thoughts.
Not to our feelings.
Into our outbursts, and every accompanying inconvenience.
We learn, even if we can’t admit, that we didn’t know at any earlier time how this would feel, or what would rise to the surface.
We navigate simultaneity, and that proximity makes us feel the most alone in what we are facing.
This lyric got in my head today as I continue to wait for my friend’s funeral to arrive.
It rose in the place of homework, and getting dressed.
It cut in front of drying my hair, or returning emails.
It sounds as replay, its too quiet in my town.
It’s too quiet
It’s too quiet
It’s too quiet
I see the year 2009 and the remembered scene of someone brought to tears in a gush.
She’s choking on emotional intensity, at exactly the time where others can swallow theirs in.
A child’s hand holds hers, as they both look at a casket, staring above ground, residing with them.
She sobs, and he stands with her.
Hers the experience of a stranger mourning something less obvious, and less disclosed.
Her loss others her from this celebration of life, and without saying so with so many words, the emptying of the room makes space for her to remain, and finally arrive.
Unable to be quiet then.
Unable to express what she has lost, and tentative in taking her hurt seriously.
Our path to taking hurt seriously is interrupted by a culture that shames the reality of mourning.
As the flair of this lyric clicks like a cymbal, my head turns to read my wall.
Lyrics say is all, she collage-messaged me.
Between pictures of a pink camera, and a panda bear staring at a three-decker cake, her words loom and these lyrics replay.
Today I heard, that someone left this earth.
That someone disappeared.
Left no one here.
Today is quiet in my town.
Between the myth of closure and the misunderstanding of getting on with, I introduce these green rooms.
Where we are more honest about the contradiction of chronic and intense, sudden and expected, lingering yet predicated, vastly more dissimilar than shared.
When we stand still in our vitriol, to admit that we don’t know what it’s like.
That we haven’t felt this.
That we will feel this again.
That we will react harshly to someone else.
That we will be gentler with someone who is not us.
That it will sometimes take a stranger’s death to see ourselves as a person weathering how to allow for loss to impact us, for whatever reasons, and in whatever environments it can.
There is little say that we have over what triggers our grief, and significant incompatibilities.
It is possible to experience loss you haven’t mourned.
It is possible for our grief to feel misplaced.
It is typical for our losses to be in conflict with someone else, even if that is ourselves at another moment, or with insights we aren’t sure match.
The most stubborn part of grief is its tenacity for bringing everything forward.
Someone’s truth; not everyone’s though.
And, too sparingly, the impulse to make ourselves willing to stand next to someone as they cry.
Comfortable with the fact that what you are crying over isn’t my truth, or my exact feeling.
Patient that within us are contradictory feelings, and insights that first require enough distance.
Maybe less than we’ve ever been given, and maybe much, much more.
What loss has in common is that it is unwanted, and grief clarifies and offers specificity.
Specificity that blends the worst of our amnesia,
with the worst of our memory,
and the least of our tolerance of spaciousness.
Stubbornly, the only balm is space.
Then, we can’t swallow what we suddenly feel we will not survive feeling.
We find ourselves with only space.
And coffins of every kind.
Contented not at all.
Stubbornly waiting to be, or pretending to be, or both.