11 September 2005

Learning to Swim

Recently I've had two or three separate sources suggest that I set aside time for grief each day. There's an inherent misstep in that suggestion.

The misstep is the supposition that grief behaves.

Grief is a crock. It won't come out when you invite it, not even when you coax it out with pillows and your best journal and time alone and silent in the mountains. Instead it sneaks out, impervious to convenience, and smothers your attempts to do the laundry, to get a day's work done at the office, to have a logical conversation with an unrelated party.

Grief is a petty thief, stealing away what little resolve you have to soldier on, to persevere gracefully in the face of things, to remain intact once and for all.

Now I know why Daniel is afraid of water. It's not because he can't swim, or because he thinks the boat will turn him over and trap him like it did George. It's because he is so consumed by grief over I don't know what that he's already drowning. The waves have already closed over his head, and in his flailings he took hold of my arm and tried to drag me down to the bottom with him.

Like him, I hate and resent my grief, because it stifles me. It surrounds me, and keeps me from drawing a full breath lest it pour into my lungs like lake water. My ears pound with it, and my eyes swim with its blood. But I will not let this take me under.