No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the
sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same
restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.
At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a
sort of invisible blanket between the world and me... I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me . . .
An odd by-product of my loss is that I’m afraid of being an
embarrassment to everyone I meet. At work, at the club, in the street, I see
people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whether they’ll
‘say something about it’ or not. I hate it if they do, and if they don’t . . .
C. S. Lewis, from A Grief Observed
I woke up this morning terrified. I haven’t woken like this in months. As I struggled out of my sleep fog, I tried to pinpoint what’s wrong with me, why I’m so afraid, and of course, it comes flooding back to me. Jack’s gone. Dead. My child isn’t in the next room. He isn’t sleeping at a friend’s house. I’m not waiting for him to text me that he’s on his way to school or home or that the car won’t start and he needs a rescue ride. No need to plan how we’re going to replace his car or fund his last 2 years in college. No more angry words over pot smoking or partying like a wild man. No need. No. Need.
I curse the two people who I’ve run across in the past week, who didn’t know that Jack died. “How’s that crazy kid of yours doing?” (“Fine,” I mumble) “What’s he doing? Remember when he brought you that box of chocolate the day after Valentine’s? It had melted in his car and he gift wrapped a spoon with the candy. Man, that kid is such a nut!” With one I pretend that I am late for a meeting and make a quick exit. I ended up telling the other person the truth, that I lied to avoid having to go into details.
It startles me that the pain is so intense today. 3 years, 1 month, 2 weeks and 2 days after Jack’s death. On my shoulders like a sack of concrete, the grief weighs down my body, my spirit. I have so much to do today and want so much to just lie here on the couch. For me, that isn’t a good idea. Too easy for me to hide, turn turtle-like into a shell where I feel safer than waking into a world where my child doesn’t live.
I have to talk myself through the next few steps until I am in the car on the way to work. Put away the laptop. Fix my hair. Put on some makeup. Make sure I locked the front door. And keep breathing.