“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” ~ Thomas Campbell
My most recent gigantic grief strike is six years old and staring at me from the rearview mirror, but I’m driving again.
Besides, he was just my boyfriend, not my husband. Yeah, I knew him for decades, but we were only Fire & Ice for less than two years.
So, is my grief less than yours–married 45, 33, or 8 years?
Did you lose a child? That’s the worst, they say. It’s one loss I refused the possibility of enduring, by not having children.
I watched the price my mom paid when my brother died. His death, her grief, cost her everything. I swore I wouldn’t let that happen to me.
We’re all dying, some of us slower.
After my brother’s number–27 was up, it took five years for the grief to consume my mother and earn the cancer label.
Slow death can feel fast.
I can’t compare grief, but I do. Don’t you?
I’ve learned sometimes death sticks around to wrestle with the living who sometimes surrender too soon.
A friend I knew briefly died recently. Mark had been chaotically fighting/striving/determining/surrendering/praying/believing/living in blackness. He jumped on the bridge of the in-between where he once was that he so loved and where he hadn’t yet found, but desperately desired.
He died fancy-foot dancing on the bridge of the in-between. The bridge broke underneath him and the other side called him home.
I’m walking on my own bridge of the in-between yesterday and tomorrow, standing on a few shaky boards.
Mark and I met at the beach. We spilled our stories about our lives back there, our in-between bridges, and uncertain tomorrows.
I felt I knew him, but I think he tried to give everyone that special feeling. He was a gregarious guy.
He had a pup when we met and our friendship cracked open like a coconut shell.
Mark invited me to join him on his bridge and even live in his condo. He said there was plenty of room, even with the puppy. We could help each other.
I wanted to leap. Leap into his big strong arms and be carried on the wind of his wild spirit.
I invited him to dinner the first night we met, but then told him I wasn’t feeling right.
I got scared. Scared his wild was going to a place I’d already been with a man who resembled Mark.
A man with a similar stature and nature. A man I loved, went into debt, and moved to Mexico with. A man I left empty handed and broken hearted, because the only chance I had of saving him was to leave him so he could save himself. He did.
When I met Mark and he so reminded me of Mr. Mexico, I felt joy. Joy because I loved, walked on, and it worked out.
We like to say, “It will be okay.” “Things will work out.” We say it to others and we say it to ourselves.
Sometimes things don’t work out.
Mark was just 45 when he died. I’m not sure how, although the last time I saw him he tried to tell me about his heart. I didn’t really listen, insistent he pay attention and take care of himself.
We shared secrets. We went to dinner, ate oysters, and laughed like I hadn’t in a long time. Uproarious, belly-ache laughter. It felt like being kids. Mark called it mischief.
Honestly, I thought he’d get his shit together. I thought he had more time.
I barely knew the man, unless you count instinct, ease, and intuitive knowing.
Still, death whispers to me. It doesn’t always work out. The hour is late.
Fuck off, death. Fuck the fuck off!
I’m not grappling with Grand Canyon Grief. Not this time. That’s for those holding Mark’s family and friendship lines. I ache for them.
I’m simply saddened, like standing on a dry riverbed that once roared.
Not comparing, just missing.
3 thoughts on “Comparing Grief”
Thanks for sharing this, Alice.
Obviously a lot of feeling here, and understandable thoughts and fears in comparing relationships with past ones. I love the choreography of the dark and the light in this, and yes, isn;t it juST like this for most of us. Even happily married for many years, the dance goes on. Who am I really? Who is he really? What are we doing?…We are doing a life. ..Many thanks for sharing, Alice. Keep writing, it tells us so much about ourselves we didn’t know.
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Oh, Shelagh! What a blessing your words are! Yes, we are doing a life. A simple, complicated, brutiful life.
This is very good and it seriously touched me as you evoked the both he depth and contradictions of your current feelings. All the best as you continue to move forward.
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