I have heard that there are five stages of grief. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was the doctor to develop the theory – though in time she went back to say that she wish she'd explained the stages in a different way because society had taken them as being linear and universal – which she did not intend. Her work was meant as a kindness, not a cage. I have not looked up the stages of grief. I know anger is one, acceptance is one, and I think denial is another – but that's the extent that I'm familiar with. I have opted not to look up this process because like everyone, my sorrow will be unique. There is no sense in trying to assign a sequence of events or a right/wrong to what's happening in my body and mind. If I over-analyze (which is my natural tendency) I run the risk of harming myself more rather than allowing my natural process to unfold. At least that's where I am right now.
However, in this grief, I have been confronted by MANY emotions. Included are: guilt, confusion, denial, horror, anger, sadness, loneliness, confusion, fear, emptiness, astonishment, heaviness, constriction, nausea, inspiration, nostalgia, numbness, ambition, action, inaction, pity, self-judgment, bravery, insecurity, self-harm, depression, compassion, love, and sorrow. Some of these terms may be synonymous, but I have felt them all in various degrees, depths, and definitions.
I'm back in the States. I'm sitting in the bed at your sister Berkley's house that you and I slept in three weeks before your death. We spoke about the doorknobs in her house; they were the runner up choice for our renovation. You liked the wallpaper in her bathroom. We read poems written by a dog out of the book on the back of the toilet. We walked to yoga and really enjoyed the class we attended. You took a picture of me holding a giant leaf next to my face from a tree we passed by while walking to class. It was bigger than my face. I always liked giant leaves and I thought it was cool to see one in the middle of the city. You ate a Chicago-style hotdog, with pickles. I did too. But I added ketchup when no one was looking.
But now the visit is much different. I have cried more since I've been here than I have in weeks. The last time I was here, I was the happiest I had ever been. Now, I'm the saddest.
My grief is manifesting in a new way. It's as though the protective sheaths my body has offered me – the cushions – are deflating. The reality is really sinking in – again. I already thought it was real, that this had already hit me. But it hits in new ways now. The meat cleaver has been sharpened. The pain is fresh and palpable all over again. I feel paralyzed by the pain.
When Jesus's cousin, John the Baptist, died tragically – Jesus got on a boat and traveled to a desolate place to think and pray. When he arrived, crowds had heard of his arrival. They journeyed by foot to meet him and ask for his ministry. And when he saw them, he turned outward rather than inward. He helped others. While Jesus had intended to be alone and mourn, he was able to turn his sorrow into deep empathetic compassion when he saw that's what the world needed. He allowed the grief to empower him.
There have been moments, days, and even weeks through this process when I've felt
ambitious. Where I've felt that I can take this pain and create something
out of it. I will use it to help others. I will write a memoir. I will use this loss to create something beautiful to memorialize
you. I have gone so far as to be in action and planning. That
inspiration felt good. It kept me moving. It kept me nurturing. I can understand how such deep sorrow can liberate selfless action.
Until it can't. Until the adrenaline runs out. Until the blood wears thin. Until the body simply drops. And that's where I'm hanging now. I'm in a dark causeway.
Even though I'm surrounded by beautiful support. I am with your sister, one of my oldest and dearest friends. I hold your nephew in my arms and look into his innocent eyes, and I ask for you to shine out to me through him. But I am so, so raw. I am stuck in a pit of self-woe. I know this is part of the nonlinear and bewildering process. I realize my feelings, according to Ms. Kubler-Ross, are not crazy, they are probably very much in line with the five stages I am supposedly experiencing. But nevertheless, I do not feel strong, I do not feel connected, and I do not feel motivated to be empowered. I need my legs back underneath of me.
So today, my sweet love, I ask for your help. I ask you to pull me up in whatever way you can. Make a light twinkle around my periphery. Meet me in my dreams with a kiss or even a fart. Smile at me through invisible space so I can feel your aura. Let me know you're here, somewhere or everywhere. Let me know you still love me. Let me know, so I can go back to being brave.