2013-12-24_19-01-21Grief is like a hole, dark and deep. I sat at the bottom for long while, nursing the wounds of descent. I laid amidst the cold dank shadows, lost and lonely.

After some time I was able to lift my head upward and believe in the promise of a sun… but I couldn’t see it and I most certainly couldn’t feel it.

Later I began moving and as I shuffled through the enclosed emptiness I soon realized that there wasn’t anywhere to go but upward. If I was to move at all, it was to leave this place… To seek the sun of the promise, and so I did.

The ascent has been slow and tedious… days, month spent on a single step. I have crumpled and fallen, re-injuring delicate wounds. The work is grueling and the moments of triumph are soaked in bitterness and exhaustion.

But the sun did show up.  The fresh air blows free.

I do, however, look downward often, and as I squint into the abyss I realize there isn’t actually a bottom… there was never a bottom. The higher I get, the more vast the darkness becomes. The more expansive the hole. The higher I rise, the more I am certain that I can never escape the hole.  It goes on forever.

For every accomplishment, for every step forward, the sun shines brighter but the emptiness grows bigger. I don’t leave it behind… It grows somehow, and it is always surrounding me, no matter how high I get, how warm the sun… I’m always in the midst of endless, forever loss.

The beauty only demonstrates the destruction. The hope reveals the sorrow. I’m moving forward, onward and upward… But the ache isn’t left behind – it’s not down deep in the shadows – it’s everywhere, all around me… only now there is sunshine too.


I’m Always Sad

imageThe vet tech standing before me cuddled a sleepy Boston terrier while gently but firmly extending its small, furry leg toward me. I reached out and grasped the little leg as I prepared to place a catheter.  The technician suddenly gasped loudly.

“Are you feeling sad today?” she probed intently. We both held onto opposite ends of the little dog’s leg as I paused.

“Are you sad today?” she coaxed again. Without taking my eyes off the dog’s vein slowly growing plump with blood I answered her quietly, causally even, “I’m always sad.”

“I feel it!” she gushed, her eyes welling with tears. “The moment you touched the paw I could feel your sadness move through the dog into me.” she explained earnestly. As my brow silently wrinkled she uncomfortably exhaled, “I just feel so sad…” Tears filled her eyes and began dripping down her cheeks.

Floundering to fill the awkwardness with sound she kept rambling, “This hurts so badly! I don’t know what to do – can I give you a hug?

Without looking up, without making eye contact I gently smiled, “No, I’m ok… it’s ok. I’ve gotten used to it.” I carefully laughed a little, trying to reassure her.

“How can you live like this?” She pondered out loud, wiping away her tears and clearing her throat.  I looked up carefully, still avoiding eye contact and gratefully realized she wasn’t expecting me to respond.

We have worked like this before, each with a hand on an animal’s leg, connecting with one another through the shared touch of someone’s pet… apparently my sadness has never before transferred through flesh and fur and blood. Was I anymore sad today than any other day? No. Maybe… I don’t know.

I haven’t ever given much credence to the concept of a person’s ‘aura’ or ‘energy’…  Although, it’s only lately that I have any real concept of the great magnitude of things which are and also are not… So perhaps the essence of a person, is in fact something real, a thing that can drip and slosh.  Certainly this sadness – my sadness – is powerful. Excruciating power. Maybe it did spill out out of me in that moment… Maybe it was drawn out…

I remember in the early days of my grief literally placing my hands over my heart as I interacted with people – I was trying to contain the gurgly, leaking hurt – the pain inside of me was so very powerful, so very deep – I felt compelled to control it somehow. But despite my inclinations I couldn’t begin to contain it – it kept going and going forever, completely unmanageable… and so it gushed from within me, drenching everyone in my vicinity.

And somehow over time my heart began to scar around the torrent, a layered deformity of containment. Instead of moving through me, it comes along with me somehow. I don’t spew forth anymore… but maybe I still stink of the wreckage, maybe it’s the essence of my gift.

Maybe sometimes it eats through a bit and I barely notice the failure of my deadened tissues until someone suddenly gasps and I realize my sadness has leaked out.