I have a lot of interests: I read novels. I make quilts. I take pictures. I practice yoga. I run. I write. All of these interests and activities bring me joy. They also fill my time. I never thought of this as a bad thing. Each one of these activities are good things to do — I’m bringing light and love into the world through the things I enjoy. They also keep me busy.
This week I’m not at home. And, even though most of these activities can be done anywhere, I’m finding myself surrounded by extra space, open space.
I’m not being interrupted by the dogs sliding into my sewing room or begging for dinner. I’m not picking up things around the house or cleaning up the kitchen. I’m not traveling to and from yoga class. I’m not spending time with my husband. I’m not watching mindless TV.
When I take all of those things away, I finally notice the heaviness on my chest. I notice the friend who’s been following me day after day. When all of the busyness is stripped away, when I can’t find another excuse to fill my time with another task, when I’m sitting alone in my Air BnB… my friend finally catches up with me and says, “Whew! I didn’t think you were ever going to stop! I’ve been trying to get your attention — didn’t you hear me calling your name?!”
I don’t want to stop reading and quilting and taking pictures and going to yoga and running and writing. I don’t want to stop playing tug-of-war with one dog and patiently petting the other. I don’t want to stop talking with my husband and texting with friends. None of these are bad things and I don’t want them to stop.
And… I wonder if these times away, whether intentional for this purpose or not, are good for me. I wonder if stepping away from my day-to-day life every now and then is what I need, even though I don’t like it.
Similar to when I was with this group last fall, I feel I’m on the constant brink of tears, of a complete and total meltdown. I’ve teared up several times today, but I never let it flow. One friend said that if it’s building up, then it needs to come out… I haven’t gone there yet.
Grief is filling in those spaces when I usually sit on the couch at the end of the day and watch TV. Grief is filling in where I’d rather my pups be. Grief is filling in where my hands feel idle and my body is anxious, unable to be still. Grief has settled in on my chest making it harder to breathe. Grief is trying to force out all those tears that I’m holding back.
I spoke to someone today who understood my grief to a certain extent. For eight years he and his wife couldn’t conceive — but it was his body, not hers, that was barren. For the first time I felt a man understand what I was saying. Now, his story was different as they eventually did conceive and have a child. However, he was able to hear my story and understand my grief in a way that not many people can.
He confirmed what I have suspected, what my husband has suggested… this grief won’t ever go away. It may change, but I won’t ever be able to get rid of it. So, that’s why Grief must be called a friend. If She’s with me to the end, we might as well get comfortable with one another. I need to be able to say to Her sometimes, “not today, please.” And, she needs to be able to say to me, “I’m here, look at me.” I need to be able to say to Her, “let’s take it easy today.” And, she needs to be able to say to me, “it’s been awhile, let’s talk.”
I feel like this week is one of those times when She needed some space to speak up, to be heard, to be noticed. As much as I feel like I pay attention to Her regularly, it’s probably more surface check-ins than the deep dives that need to take place periodically. She’s not insisting that we do this daily, or even weekly — neither of us have the energy for such a thing. She’s just suggesting that every once and awhile we take some time apart — just the two of us to do some work together.
I’m not sure what conversations are still left to be had over the next two days, but I will trust that Grief and I can work those out together. I will also trust that She’ll help me sleep well tonight because when we’re together I wear out quickly. I don’t know where our friendship will take us, but that’s okay because we have a lifetime to figure it out.