Living While Grieving

I remember once in 6th grade, this girl stepped on my foot. Many people have done that by accident, but she did it on purpose. So my foot was hurt, but so were my feelings. I no longer feel the physical pain of that moment, but when I think of it, I’m rocked with  the befuddlement and impotent indignation of that moment.

We haven’t all watched the person that we love most in the world die, we’ve all dealt with someone being cruel to us for no reason, so we all know that emotional pain sticks with us longer than physical pain. That’s why it’s weird to me when people expect me to be okay that my mom is dead. My knowledge of her didn’t disappear with her body. Right after my mom died, I pictured us both as vessels, with me pouring love into her non-stop for 32 years and then trying to figure out where to put that love once her vessel was destroyed. The love didn’t stop flowing, it just went out of me and into nothing. I’d never felt emptier.

The problem with grieving is that it doesn’t go away. My mom doesn’t stop being dead. The thing that upset me the day she died is still happening. She didn’t die and then come back and sometimes I remember how bad it sucked to know she was dead. I never stop remembering because it’s still happening. This is current. That bitch from 6th grade is still stepping on my foot, except it’s not a little girl, it’s God, and it’s not my foot, it’s my heart that’s being torn out second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, year by year.

And on top of that, I’m supposed to go to work and function as a normal human being, and I try because I’m not the first person to ever experience loss. Mine is not the genesis of all human suffering. Everyone, if they live long enough, will go through their days, hearing nothing but screaming in their heads where there used to be a measured narrator, figuring out what to wear to work, what to buy at the grocery store, what movie to see…

I know this and so I try to be kind, but some days, all I want to do is die. And on those days it’s hard to be kind because everyone I meet and talk to is just blocking my path to sweet, sweet death. I want them all to go away so that I can go away.

People are worried that the afterlife might be even worse than this one. Some people are afraid that if they’re not good enough here, they’ll be punished for eternity somewhere else. Hell holds no terror over me. It’s not that there ISN’T worse — based on my limited knowledge of God, that’s a definite possibility. It’s that worse is beyond my imagination. Every day is the absolute worst day of my life.

Every breath in is like a standing in the shade of a willow tree, with a 3rd-degree sunburn, and every breath out is like leaving the shade of the tree and feeling the sun burn away at my blackening blisters until there is nothing left but pain.

I can tell people this, but they look at my soft body and my baby doll smile and they don’t believe it. Sometimes, I look in the mirror or at a picture of myself, and I can’t believe that what I’m looking at is real. I can’t  project any humanity into her; frailty, fears, or faults. She looks so sweet and uncomplicated. Like nothing bad has ever touched her.

But inside, sometimes all I feel is the hot, sticky tar of tainted innocence. And once purity is tainted, it’s not pure anymore. I understand the tendency for humanity to embrace the concept of fire and brimstone because I would like to see myself, body and soul, cleansedestroyed by fire.

Sometimes I’m not sure what a person is, and if there is a definite definition of one, I’m sure I don’t fit into it. I don’t think I ever have.

I think also, that people think that you can’t have these thoughts and then carry on like I do, laughing, and trying to focus on small pleasures. The moment is all we have. It’s the only thing no one can take from us. It’s the thing that makes comedy magic — everything outside of this moment is out of our control — what’s happened is already done, what will happen will almost never go as planned, but right now, we’re crafting this moment. We’re creating the past and the future, you and me, writer and reader, painter and viewer, comedian and audience, now. Now. Now. It’s the closest thing to being God, to being with God, we can get.

I spend my day busy, distracting myself with petty disagreements and tiny sparks of hope, and sometimes I think that’s all a person is — someone who forgets to be pain for moments, days, years at a time. And in that case, I am one. I’m just bad at it, because I remember too much, too often.

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