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Trying to cope with grief

For the last week, I’ve been trying to figure out what to say about Chris’ death. I think I’ve finally figured some of it out. Turns out that it’s a lot of mixed metaphors (of my own making) and a lot of poetry (the making of others). But it makes sense in my mind, so you’ll just have to bear with me. It’s not so much a thread of thought as a tangled spool. But hey, there’s a poem for that:

Separation – W.S.Mervin

Your absence has gone through me

Like thread through a needle.

Everything I do is stitched with its colour.

 

I was in Venice last week with my family and the last line definitely rang true. I think everyone should experience Venice at least once in their lives, because it’s such an extraordinary city. I kept thinking of things that Chris would enjoy: the random serenading gondoliers, the locks of love on every bridge, the lack of cars, the fact that wine is cheaper than water…and the sheer beauty of the place.

I kept thinking, “Chris is never going to see Venice”. And then, I kept thinking about all the other things Chris would never see. And how I would never see him again. And I didn’t understand.

Venice is a city of water and stone and glass, but it was the glass that made me figure things out, how I felt.

When you lose someone you love, it’s akin to that horrible moment when you drop a glass and it breaks. There’s that moment of sheer panic, when your blood slows on its way to your heart, and your muscles jolt, and you see this glass in slow motion, falling, and the moment of breaking. The word grief is the word shatter, translated, emotion made noise.

But the worst part is after the glass has shattered, because it is only then that the situation becomes irrevocable, complete, in the past tense. There’s the reluctance of clearing-up and throwing-away, the ritual of shard-searching, lest any minute piece of glass escape your attention. Did you ever see police combing a crime scene, in a long line, advancing together, inch by inch? That’s how I feel when I clean up a shattered glass. I’m looking for evidence, desperately trying to make sense of something. Maybe, just maybe, I can put it back together…This is how grief makes me. If I can find all the shards, they can be pieced, made whole again.

Memories of Chris come to me in bright fragments – but painfully, I cannot see where they fit into the whole. What did the glass look like before it fell? What was its exact shape and contours? How did it look when the light shone through it? Did I imagine Chris the way he is in my head, or is that how he actually was? Did Chris give me his last cigarette one time, or simply offer it? What were our first and last words to each other? Where does this shard fit? Why won’t it fit? How can someone be there one minute and not be there the next? Where did you go?

“Where do vanished objects go? Into non-being, which is to say, everything”

I still haven’t come to terms with any of this. I’m still not sure how I’m meant to move on when I don’t even know how to say goodbye.

I thought that by writing this I would find a way to finish it and therefore make sense of things, but it turns out that I don’t. I think I need other people to help me to make sense of things.

I wish I could remember what Chris’ laugh sounded like.

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2006/sep/09/andrewmotion.featuresreviewsImage