Let’s talk about grief, shall we? Because what I’m experiencing in this brief moment in humanity’s history is an acute sense of grief, a subject I stumbled into over three years ago when I felt certain that my best friend was going to die. By some goddamned miracle, cancer did not take her from me, but my grief journey, as it turns out, was well worth the ride.
My rock solid, emotionally stable, why-don’t-you-ever-freak-out Midas of a husband recently put a name to my current journey: grief. And yes. Duh. Now I see clearly why I have not been handily weathering this pandemic-sized storm. It’s not just a personal grief over the loss of what was, but rather a collective grief shared by the whole of humanity. It’s the loss of special moments at school for the kids; the loss of dinners with my mom and weddings that probably will not be. It is plans thrown to the wind, replaced by sleeping in every day like a teenager and waking up drenched in the heaviness of dread. It’s FaceTime with friends, and feeling profoundly empty the second you disconnect. It’s every single proverbial cup half empty and never, ever half full.
It’s watching the world as you thought you understood it collapsing around you, relentless waves crashing upon your shore, never letting up. One after the other they come, and all you can do some days is gasp for breath before the next one’s arrival. It’s keeping your eyes solidly focused on your family, your hands wrapped around your cup of coffee, golden retriever at your side, because the alternative is inconceivably dark for your soul.
And this grief shit is heavy, a heaviness that cannot be shared in the usual way, with your proverbial sisterhood, side by side in laps around the lake together, trying to make sense of it all. Denial, bargaining, anger, depression, acceptance. It’s grief, you guys, and I’m working my way, albeit haphazardly, through each and every stage.
Green Lake park, off limits y’all.
With each new day, you wake up to discover another loss, until you think nothing more can be taken. Today, they took the parks from Seattle, and you wonder, will it ever end? Yes, I suppose it eventually will. But when it does finally conclude, humanity will have transformed in an irreversible way. Maybe we will be more compassionate, perhaps slower, more intentional, introspective and kind. Maybe our trips will be next door to eat with our neighbors instead of across international borders, finding friendship and kindness where we never before thought to look.
And perhaps this is the acceptance phase of my grief journey: finding normal in the new, learning to look for the joy in places I couldn’t clearly see before. But also knowing that, like grief, you don’t get over the loss. I will mourn all the change without question, but I will also work on moving forward. Remember that saying, the only way forward is through? And here we are, heading through the pandemic, blanketed with grief and maybe a ray or two of hope, eyeing a future we can’t yet actually see.