Grief is a force of nature, like the ocean. She can be calm, the waves gentle, just a noise in the background, as she’s been for me over the last several months.
Four years after my beloved died unexpectedly in his sleep, I drew another line goodbye. Kevin died March 4, 2016. That day this year, I visited his home state of Florida. I emotionally kissed him goodbye. I meant it this time!
By the grace of God, the gift of time, and sheer will, I released Grief’s grip on my being. I regained a sense of self, strength, and quieting of the incessant internal screaming. The ocean waves blew soft.
Now, it’s August. Grief threatens my calm. She’s not mean, but she’s present, reminding me my two truest soul connections in my 55 years on earth no longer inhabit this place. Queen Obvious!
My soulmate dog Phoenix, a lover in a Black Lab body, died last year after 11 spent glued to me. Of course, I grieved her, but I also used my brain to dismiss the pain since her death made sense in a way Kevin’s didn’t. She lived a full life.
Now, she’s back in my dreams, standing by my bed, staring at me with her caramel-brown eyes stirring me awake, nudging me into yesterday’s grin. But she’s not there.
Logic and grief get along like math and poetry. I know, that’s a thing, but not for me.
Grief aligns as the ultimate juxtaposition—the truths we resist and those we cling to.
My sister Jayne and I both started dating new men in 2014, after losing our husbands to death and divorce, respectively. In early May, I visited a friend of double decades and let’s just say, it was on. Walls crumbled, hearts opened, and Kevin and I became Fire & Ice.
In December of the same year, my sister went speed dating and met her mate, Dean. They danced and tripped over baggage and learned to step toward rather than away in ways that work for them.
Dean was in our home that day in 2016 as we all awaited Kevin’s arrival. The guys would meet for the first time. We had reservations at The Melting Pot. I don’t know if we ever cancelled.
I know I was worried when Kevin, king of communication, didn’t call and was late, so out of character. Dean said, “Everything will be okay.” He lacked my experience of death whispering on the wind before she’s announced. Everything was not alright.
The police went to Kevin’s house and found him “unresponsive” in his bed, with his bag packed, the sweater he intended to give me inside. One last surprise from the greatest gift God ever gave me.
I grieved the loss of my Fire actively. Like a mermaid, I dove to the depths and found the treasures. Four years later, “I’m fine” found truth in me.
Here’s the juxtaposition. Well, one of many. My sister’s love with Dean has progressed naturally. I prayed for her to find a special relationship again after Grief almost crushed her under the weight of losing her husband of 33 years. So, I celebrate her engagement.
This morning, sitting alone at the kitchen table that currently sits in the home I share with my sister, while she stays with her fiancé, Grief joined me for coffee.
Like a frenemy, she asked: What if Kevin would’ve lived and Dean would’ve died? You’d be planning your wedding. Grief can be such a b*tch!
No, I wouldn’t want that, either. Grief persisted. Look how happy Jayne is!
It reminded me of Kevin insisting, “Sometimes it’s good to put yourself first.” He said, “Icey, if there was only going to be one book contract, wouldn’t you want it to go to you?” I gave in. “Yeah, I would.” That’s not how it works, though.
Besides, this thought is different. It invokes shame in its existence. It screams to be suppressed. Jealousy over my own sister’s happiness? I want to spit it out like a cockroach on my tongue.
Still, I recall after Jayne’s husband died, she found it difficult to be in the company of other happy couples, even her children and especial my friends. Bittersweet is the taste of what you lost staring you in the face.
I’m a Scorpio. I turn into pain, not away. Truth nourishes my soul. So, here it is: I’m jealous my sister gets to marry the man she connected with in 2014 while I still grieve mine.
In my 20s, I would’ve suppressed that truth into the bowels of the earth and walked away. Or ran.
Maturity is the ability to hold two truths—or five. I’m honestly giddy for my 60-year-old sister getting to plan a wedding for the first time in her life. I’ve gotten to do it twice. Her first vows were spoken at the Justice of the Peace.
Now, my heart flutters with the same butterfly-joy Jayne emanated when I married my second husband—the sure bet. On that day, my sister’s Great-Barrier-Reef-blue eyes reflected what I felt in my gut.
Recently, my sister and I donned our masks (hello 2020) and ventured to her appointment at David’s Bridal. I stood on a stoop below, witnessing the dresses doing their number on my sister. Facing herself as the glowing bride in the mirror, she sparkled.
I took in the show and captured photos. Jayne tried on gowns until she found the one. A surprising smile rose from my belly into a balloon expanding in my heart with its string tied to my tongue.
My sister shown like a sunbeam. Our (deceased) mom’s presence floated in the air like perfume.
Yes, to the dress.
Yes, to love, wherever we find it within life’s juxtapositions.
Welcome present moment, with all your messy, authentic, bold, and beautiful feelings. I celebrate and anticipate Jayne and Dean’s upcoming spring wedding. You can bet I’ll be dancing.
2 thoughts on “How I Dance with Grief.”
That was beautiful. Thank you for pointing out that logic and grief don’t get along. While I’ve not dealt with loss through death, I am still fighting those “truths we resist and those we cling to”. Your truth points the way.
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I’m glad my words felt helpful. Thank you. May you find the light in the darkness, which is still dark and hard to face even if it’s not death.
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