Every once in a while, even for someone like me who communicates her innermost thoughts only by writing them down, there are no words.
Sadness builds a wall out of weariness and pain and fear in my chest that is hard to reach around. Completely contrary to my usual nature, my first reaction to every single potential interaction is “I don’t want to.” Walk up to the front of the elementary school and stand in the sunshine with the other parents. I don’t want to. Talk to an acquaintance outside of Quinn’s annoying Christian school. I don’t want to. Ice cream social. I don’t want to. Cross country meet. I don’t want to. PTA meeting, volunteer as mystery reader, BBQ at a friend’s house, park play date, toddler class, book club.
I don’t want to. I don’t want to. I DON’T WANT TO.
Even the things I know I need, coffee with my dearest friends, a birthday dinner, a daily walk, my treasured writing time, require so much effort to shove the mountain of “I don’t want tos” out of the way and just show up. I force myself to remember that showing up is the battle because the joy and the laughter and the love is there waiting for me. The way grief isolates is so human. We are contrary creatures. Right at the moment when we need connection the most, in my experience, it becomes the hardest.
I know – I know, I know, I know – that the layers of grief in life make the happiness more intense. It’s like a damn cake, right? The frosting on its own is too cloying and sweet. You need those deep bittersweet chocolate layers to truly experience the joy of a mouthful of buttercream. I get it. Except right now there are chocolate crumbs all up in my fucking frosting and I’m so angry about it I could jam the frosting knife through the whole damn thing until it is a cake corpse on the floor.
If you have lost the thread of the cake metaphor, that last stabby part would be a bad idea. Because we all like cake. And also life. It’s full of these incredible people who reach out when I can’t. Friends who call every day to make sure that I’m going on that walk and drink coffee and laugh and send favorite books and leave chai quietly on my porch and are there with their words in ways I’ll never be able to describe.
Then this happens. I round our corner at the end of the day feeling defeated by the concrete around my heart and the knots in my stomach and the whining children pulling at my sleeves and there it is.
Someone – I don’t know who, and I’ve asked and asked, but I wish you’d write and tell me because I have a slightly soggy, teary hug for you – someone delivered my missing butterfly balloon right to my back yard.
Words fail. My only thought is a stolen line from our 2012 Listen To Your Mother show: I hope someday I can be half the friend to someone who needs me that you all have been to me.