Grief you’re a lot like crazy. You are.
I am house hunting now and can not look at a house with the number six- the day you died- in the address. I look for sevens or seventeens- your birthday, our anniversary – not just in house addresses- but the minutes left on the parking meter I pull into, the defrosting time left on the microwave clock when it beeps, the time that an email was sent.
I smell a burning smell in our kitchen and repeatedly check toaster, burners are off. I still smell it. The oven. How could I forget the oven and the potato I was cooking in there? Sliced sweet potato chips turning black.
When I fly on the airplane, I no longer worry about dying in a crash. I worry about there being no remains of mine to lay beside you in our shared grave…the one place I am certain I will join you.
Grief you are the worst kind of nostalgia imaginable. You are.
When I reach in the cabinet I wonder if we bought this can of beans or this bottle of herbs when you were alive. Every day feels like a party room after a party, my living room right after we take the tree town, littered with those dried out needles from already last year. Every place I go to screams Nostalgia- the last time we sat in that coffee shop, your favorite chips in the chip aisle, our first movie in that movie theater I drive by and which is no longer a movie theater.
Every recent announcement of others getting engaged, married, pregnant, reminds me of our lost life- our holding hands by the Brooklyn Bridge at South Street seaport, my hair blowing in that photo of us on the Staten Island ferry, our phone calls to our parents, “We’re engaged!” Sitting in the limo right after we are married watching our friends and family surrounding the church. “We’re married.” “Did you see that?” you say after I missed our daughter’s heartbeat at our first doctor’s visit. “No, I missed it.” “It was amazing.” “I’m pretty sure it’s a boy, but if it’s a girl, how about the name Audrey?” “I like it.”
And you are…the nostalgia of a future yet to be and a future: could. have. been.
Grief you are the purest homesickness.
You have me always waiting, always expecting, turning my head to an empty doorway each night.
You keep me always searching, always unsettled, always a vagabond, carrying with me these boxes of homemade cards and letters, stacks of sympathy cards, photographs, and other remnants.
You leave me like a kid locked out of her own house. Sitting on the brick steps on a cold day until I -am- numb.
And grief, you are nothing if you are not LONGING.
Frederick Buechner, in a book I’m reading, tells me the word longing comes from the root of the word long as in length in space or time, but “also the word belong, so that in its full richness to long suggests to yearn for a long time for something that is a long way off and something that we feel we belong to and that belongs to us.”
Grief. You are.