An Old Friend Called Grief


I do everything I can to avoid meeting her again. It’s an old friend of mine, Grief. We’ve sat and had coffee. I invite her into my bed and to ride with me in the car any place I go. She overstays her welcome every time. She hands me tissues and puts acrylics on my desk. She helps me order copious amounts of things online and watch hours of pointless television. She doesn’t shove food in my face this time, but she does offer the sweet foods first. We stay up way too late for no reason at all. We write together and she steps into the shower with me. We sit and wait together, but she sits on top of me, making sure I feel the aching in my bones.

Before I know what she’s doing, she reaches into me and pulls my heart out for me to see. My breath falls short and I can feel the tears stop in their tracks. My whole body becomes lighter—so light that I could run on the clouds. I don’t feel good, exactly, but I sure as hell don’t feel exhausted anymore. I look to the mess she’s made. It’s a chaotic and mangled thing. She has to hold it with both hands because of the contradicting heaviness and fragility of it, and she already looks tired carrying it for only a few minutes. Paint, ink, and blood spill down her arms. Words fall to the floor. I can see the shadowy places underneath and golden light beaming out from the cracks.

It’s a collage of quotes and lyrics and pictures. There are stars and planets and sunsets between the charred parts. I notice a scrap of paper that reads “I will love you forever” runs along a stitched up seam. One side blooms with cherry blossoms, and my sister’s first words are imprinted on the top. “You are the greatest success story that I tell,” is in the middle, overlaying an image of my best friend and I from grade school, missing teeth and all. Rainstorms with cozy blankets and coffee run through one of the arteries and I can see my dad’s hug at the end of it. My other sister’s laugh takes up one whole section, along with her dogs’ excited-to-see-me dances. My cat’s paw prints are firmly set in place next to one of the sunsets. My roommate’s drawings and papers that say “you can do this” hang on the hooks of some of the scars. The feeling of that first soul-crushing kiss floats next to the stars, and arms wrapping around me sits atop the planets. “You are the kindest person I know,” paints one of the fissures gold. Another is patched with the red string that holds the feeling of my long lost friend’s eyes looking into mine.

So many volumes filled to the last page. I can’t believe all that I see. I can’t believe I walk around with all of that every day. She looks me in the eye when she plunges it back into my chest. The tears pick up right where they left off. I sit like a block of lead on my bed. Bit by bit, I think about it. Bit by bit, I feel it. I lighten and lighten until I feel like me again, a different me, but still me. I have an incredible affinity for love. I have an unbelievable amount of support around me. And I will always be okay. So, I’ll tuck her in my bed tonight and we will try again tomorrow.