I have been working on a long, depressing blog post for more than a month. This month marks a year since The Thing That Happened Last February. February 28th marks the last time I saw him alive, though he lived – hidden by his family from me – for another 23 days.
It’s been a rough two months.
I’ve written words about it these two months. Many of them, in fact. I’ve written words and cried tears and written more words. I’ve tried to write about other things, but those are the only words I’ve managed to write.
And while I’ve done that, while I’ve struggled to make sense of a world that felt like it stopped in February of last year, the world has proved me wrong, and gone on. February is just another month, as is March. Warren was just another person who died. Lots of people died that month. Good people, people who were loved, people who loved others. People who meant the world to someone else. People who laughed and cried and told stories and made others happy and sad and angry. People that were fathers and mothers and lovers and friends and children and grandparents. People that accomplished great things and people that accomplished nothing.
I am not alone in my grief.
It was somewhere in the midst of trying to write and publish something about it all for the umpteenth time that I truly felt that, deep inside. Felt it and accepted it, not as a platitude, but as a reality. Tragedy happens all the time, everywhere. Minor tragedies, major ones. Tragedies far worse than my own.
And the world keeps spinning. Daffodils poke their yellow faces up through the dirt, birds build nests and lay eggs, geese go south and then come back home. People die, and we are left to pick up the pieces and move on. The holes they leave behind heal over and close up, or are filled again with new life, new love, new adventures.
Or not. Sometimes we choose to pick at the scab, refusing to let ourselves heal, to never live or love fully again. The grief is not just part of us, but becomes us, swallowing us whole and rendering us inert; stagnant and sterile.
It’s hard to face his death, this anniversary of his death, as the world renews in spring. I remember spending days watching it snow from the hospital windows last February, then walking out that last time to see daffodils blooming.
The world had moved on.
At the time, I was still under the illusion that he would be coming home, and that every year the daffodils would have special meaning to me…renewal. Rebirth. I’ve always loved the spring.
V and I took a walk the other day and passed a clump of daffodils blooming. I instantly felt that leap of joy in my heart, followed closely by a plummeting despair. How can something that brings me such joy hurt so much?
Later, another night, he and I talked. We talked about W, and these two months, and the nature of life and death and love and grief. Some of the things V said to me hurt, not because he was intending to cause pain – I think he meant the exact opposite, actually, because for him what he believes is somehow a comfort, and I think he meant it to be to me as well. But in that moment I could not perceive it as comfort, and I cried as hard as I had in a long time.
I needed the release. These words, these thoughts, have been bound up inside of me so tight they have been an obstruction in my chest, and it was only with a hard shaking that they could be dislodged. It was only later that I realized his words had done something else as well. They had echoed so much of W’s own beliefs that it was as though he was saying them to me.
“Do not grieve for me; I am no more. I am gone. Live your life. Love again. Be joyful again. Do not live in the past; go forward into your future.”
I’m ready to let spring mean what it had always meant in the past to me: a new start. A fresh beginning. Growth. To do anything less – to hold onto this pain, to wrap myself in it and let it choke me – would be to negate the sacrifice Warren made, when he chose to be allowed to die rather than to burden me with his care.
I’m ready to live again – truly live. Be here, be present. I’m ready to grow again, and maybe, just maybe, blossom again.