Grief is dreaming.
It is me watching, working, manufacturing the process of making all of your dreams come true, even if you’re not here to see it.
Grief is the fear of the bittersweet ache sure to appear on the day that I start pursuing my own dreams again. Yours are easier. Yours keep you here. Grief is the fear that one day I’ll run out of your dreams, our dreams, and have to focus solely on me.
Grief is a coffee pot that still brews eight cups every morning. Four for me, four for you. Grief is the jitters of my hands on the days that I choose to drink your half of the brew, and grief is the sinking feeling in my stomach on the days when I have to dump your portion of the pot down the drain.
Grief is the new episodes of the shows we watched together. It’s the story-lines that will never be resolved for you. Grief is wondering if I really care who wins The Bachelorette anymore. It’s the strange realization that I maybe never even liked the show in the first place.
Grief is the new things, movies, books, art that are being created, and will be created. And grief is the realization that you will never see any of it.
Grief is being one of those creators, and feeling incredibly broken about the entire task. It’s writing words you’ll never read. It’s saying things you’ll never hear. It’s my mind that continues to churn on long after your own neurons stopped firing.
Grief is faking it. Grief is smiling more so people worry less. And then grief is recognizing the first time that one of these smiles is real again. Grief is both loving and hating that I still have the capability to truly smile.
Grief is the tissues that I find in the pocket of your sweatpants. It’s remembering that you were more than a figment of my imagination. You had allergies. You blew your nose. You were human. You needed tissues. You were here.
Grief is looking through the pictures on your phone and finding candid shots of myself that I never knew you took- shots of myself in life, shots of myself in love.
And then grief is that moment when I remember just how authentically my life played out next to yours. How authentically we molded into a single life.
Grief is now wondering how to play this two-player game alone.
Grief is soaring through pizza Friday with flying colors. Grief is your tradition that you made me promise to keep alive. I did promise, despite knowing how much it would hurt. And then I dreaded it. And then I lived it, and I made it through the evening by riding on the backs of my friends, our friends, and I found joy and laughter. And it was real. I amazed myself.
Grief is every moment that I have amazed myself. It’s every moment that I hope I’m amazing you as well.
But then grief is the next day. Grief is sobbing into the leftovers.
Grief is never knowing when you will soar or when you will sob.
Grief is the process of starting over right when I should have been at my prime. It’s experiencing the clusters of growing pains that I thought I’d never have to face again. It’s relearning how to breathe, walk, navigate a new world when all that I really want is the one I already invested everything that I am into.
Grief is me wanting you to meet our kid. It’s me wanting me to meet our kid. It’s wondering if we should have just had a kid. Screw cancer. Screw finances. Screw practicality. Why were we always so freaken practical? What did practicality spare? Why is our house so quiet? Why did we deny ourselves the joy of little feet on hardwood floors? Would things be better or worse, sweeter or harder, if I had something, anything, that was both me and you other than our memories?
Grief is wanting, needing, more memories.
Grief is the moment that the insurance lady asks me for an emergency contact, and I instinctively say your name. Then grief is the same lady’s kind patience as she waits for me to gather myself from the weird laugh/weep fit my emotions sent me into at the realization that my parents are my emergency contact again.
Grief is the moment when everything biblical about my life, everything about a girl leaving her mother and father, has reset. My life is rolling backwards.
Grief is rolling backwards.
Grief is my anger with you, and then my guilt at this anger. It’s me shouting, “Damn it, Hans. I told you it was going to hurt,” into the dead of the night, and it’s me being pissed that you still left. It’s me being pissed that I’m still alone. And then grief is the realization of everything that hurt you first. It’s the painful resolve that your hurt might have somehow been worse than mine.
Then grief is more anger, but not at you anymore, just at a life that hurt us both.
Grief is the sudden change in tenses. It’s the first moment in that first hour of life without you that I heard my own voice say the word, “was.”
Grief is the utter dilemma of my grammatical soul in knowing that your life is now past tense, but to me, you’ll also always be so present.
I loved you, and I love you. I needed you, and I need you. I believed in you, and I believe in you.
Grief is that horrifying moment when I hear my heart whisper, oh so timidly, “Hey, I know it hurt really badly, and this might sound a bit crazy, but somewhere down the road, I wouldn’t mind trying it all again.”
Grief is utter conflict.
It’s moments of being both broken and okay.
It’s holding my breath, but still breathing.
It’s both hating and craving the quiet.
It’s laughing and crying, and knowing that both are somehow authentic.
It’s moments of diligent work followed by hours of staring at a wall.
It’s moments with and without you.
It’s just life. Our life. My life.
Grief is the only thing in the world that can truly reveal how much you love and loved someone. I never knew I had the capacity to hurt this much because I never knew I had the capacity to love this much. And in between all of the sharpest breaths, I find this process to be so beautiful.
Grief is you, Hansy. You are my greatest love. And you are my greatest grief. And what a devastating honor it is to carry both. What a devastating honor it is to keep breathing our breaths, even if I now do it alone.