How grief rolls

May brings confusion and wonder, always. Tulips, forsythia, lilac profusion. Turn the furnace off, open the windows. Bundle in sweaters, wear socks to bed, shiver anyway. Days so beautiful they break your heart, days so awful they do the very same. Birthdays, Mother’s Day, death days. Terrible anniversaries you’d do better to forget, but somehow never can.

Fifteen years of this, and I’m an expert, or I think I am. I am arrogant in my grief. I got this, I think. I swagger through May while others stumble. I talk about it easily. Oh, there were four of us, I say, when someone asks how many siblings I have, but my brother died. Stomach cancer. Incredibly rare. It was awful. He had two young daughters, the eldest of whom was only two and a half. So blithe, so confident that I am on top of my grief, these years later.

Till this year. When it was on top of me.

Grief is a rogue wave. It’s a Loch Ness monster. An iceberg. A yawning sea of salty, salty tears. You’re in a rowboat, thinking it’s a sunny day.

When bad things happen, I want to process the shit out of them. I want to talk them out. Talk them to death, if you will. I want to put them in a container and tuck it away somewhere I can find it if I need it—and then I want to move forward. But that’s not how grief rolls.

Grief rolls over and on and on. it rolls where and when it wants to. It doesn’t care about you, even a little. And time means nothing. Time is a thief and it is also a gift. I am impatient with grief, I think, it’s been fifteen years. I should be better at this. And in the next moment, my god, it’s been fifteen years already. Some day it will be twenty. That takes my breath away entirely. Some day he will be more years dead than he was alive. I cannot fathom the depth of that canyon.

This year grief rolled over me, for all my experience, my arrogance, my impatience. Grief roared up and engulfed me. It plucked me from my rowboat and held my head under till I begged to be let up.

Night came, then day. I am on another shore now. Less sure-footed in my grief, but on more solid ground somehow.

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5 Comments on “How grief rolls”

  1. maureen st.clair says:

    thank you dear Stephanie for sharing your internal, your tender powerful words sail straight to my heart.. enabling. thanks for being vulnerable through divine words….

  2. Grief follows two paths….one is a movie that is constantly replaying. The other is a book where you have to write the ending. You know your path.

  3. this sweet world says:

    Thank you, Steph, for sharing your words and your experience. I remember your brother’s passing fifteen years ago and can hardly believe it’s been that long either. Thinking of you with so much warmth.

  4. […] May is a classically hard month for my family. I’ll be seeing them next week and there’s a certain amount of […]

  5. […] with life, and then crushing it all overnight with unexpected frost. May, as I have written ad nauseum elsewhere, is a complicated and storied month. I have learned not to presuppose how May […]


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