(This post was written on 7/27.)
Someone recently told me that it’s often easier to talk about taboo topics like sexuality than it is to talk about grief. She was absolutely right.
When I tell my story, it often feels, in this odd way, as though I am coming out, as if I am sharing something I maybe shouldn’t share. Earlier this year I started online dating. As I fumble my way through this new endeavor, I’m learning that relationship history is important in the dating world. We skirt around certain stories, and though we try not to break the cardinal sin of talking about an ex on a first date, it happens more often than not: I have talked with people about exes and bad dates and loves and losses. And the people with whom I’ve had these conversations are the people I’ve made the strongest connections with. As I listen to their stories, I am learning how to tell my story again and again, to open myself and allow myself to be vulnerable with new people. I am learning what to share and what to hold on to for later.
There are all kinds of reasons I shouldn’t say too much.
Largely, though, it’s because I can almost always predict what the person’s reaction will be. Silence. There’s often the obligatory ‘I’m sorry.’ Neither of these things are bad, per se; they just make for terribly awkward situations. The bereaved are incredibly vulnerable and those vulnerabilities are magnified by silence.
What I want to do with this book I am writing is give voice to some of the stories that I dare not share in public, certainly not with people who don’t know me well. Late last year, just as I was beginning to accept the fact that I would, indeed, write this book, I wrote this in my journal:
Let’s just call it Acceptance.
Not so much in the sense of the Final Stage of Grief. It’s not at all representative or anywhere near a finality. Rather, it’s a new outlook, a new way of viewing the world and Her place in it. It has taken years for Her to get here…
But now new truths exist. Everything here, everything you are about to learn, is absolutely true.
There is, for example, The Presence. The simple knowing that He is here with Her. It’s a feeling, more than anything, and nearly impossible to articulate, especially to those who have not felt it. It is a pushing against her skin, or a weight she feels against her back when she is lying in bed and He knows that She needs that closeness, or else She will not sleep.
There are people in my life with whom I can share these words and they will know exactly what I mean. But my job as a writer is to share these words and be comfortable doing so. My job as a writer is to tell my truth confidently and assuredly. My job as a writer is to make my words resonate with others.
The thing that I will not hesitate to share is that these tasks overwhelm me more than almost anything I’ve ever taken on.