Today I am listening to Christmas music...the orchestral kind, not the holly, jolly kind. Last weekend I put up strings of Christmas lights in my house. The light is soft and warm. People keep telling me how hard the holidays will be. I feel like I need to explain that I'm not forgetting her with the lights and the music. I am just so thirsty for beautiful things. It's so hard. The beautiful things carry me through. They feel poignant and full of meaning...somehow more beautiful in the middle of all the heaviness. Many moments throughout the day, I take in a ragged breath and realize I am on the verge of sobbing, that I cannot breathe for a moment, that this is so painful I must double over, sit down, push on my eyes to stop the onslaught of tears. I cannot cry every waking moment. Nor can I forget. So, I live in this airless place of grief. Trying to live. Being oh so grateful for the people in my life and the fact that we have one more moment together. And then another. And another. There are so many beautiful things. And there is so much sadness.
I feel like I need a disclaimer. Yes, I'm grieving. My heart is broken. I cannot breathe. I don't want to get out of bed in the morning. Yes, you see holiday lights in my house, and there will be beautiful music. Yes, I will surround myself with the beautiful comfort of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas... Yes, I often feel two things (or more) at once, and I cannot explain it. I know it's confusing. I'm just trying to breathe.
In the words of Ellen Bass:
The Thing Is
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you've held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.