To me, grief is like a fog. For the past six months, it’s been hard to focus, concentrate, see things in front of me. I would listen to my friends and family talk, and I would hear them, but it was like I was underwater. I can hear you, but there is a roar in my ears, a scrim between us. I am trying to listen, I hope you know I’m trying to listen. I did all the normal things, I went to work, I met friends for dinner, I smiled, and the smiles were genuine, but they were labored, under that thick, blankety fog. I’ve wondered, these past months, what the purpose of this fog is, where it comes from in the brain. It’s effect, it seems to me, is to make one feel a bit numb, which makes sense, I guess. I can see why a little emotional anasthetic might be helpful in times like these. “Can people tell that I’m having trouble?” I would ask Nordic Boy. “No, I don’t think so. I can’t believe you’re pulling it off, but you seem ok out there.” I went to work, I kept up with people, with things. When I was particularly spaced out, Nordic Boy would catch my eye and just look at me with that lovely groundedness of his and it would help me re-focus. Being a cheerful girl by nature, this sadness felt confusing to me. What do I do here? How do I do this? I was lucky enough to have a dad for my whole life who was truly unconditional, who did nothing for me except love and support me, who gave me the gift of understanding, from how he treated me, what simple, uncomplicated, open, supportive love was. He loved me, and that was all, no qualifiers, no hard parts, no hidden hurts. It sounds stupid, maybe, but I felt frustrated for feeling so sad, for not being able to live in the gratitude of it and feel thankful after he died. I wanted to think “thank you, thank you, thank you for that love,” but instead all I could think was “this sucks, this is devastating, how am I going to do this without you?” My attempts to reach through the fog to people in my life have been less successful than I would have wanted, but I’m starting to feel resolved about that. Sometimes we don’t get what we need from people and sometimes we do- that’s the way life goes and there’s no use fighting it. And that doesn’t mean we’re not loved. That fog is a powerful thing whether you’re in it looking out or outside looking in.
Nordic Boy makes me lunch to take to work every day to make sure I don’t forget to eat something, and when I walk up the front stoop, he’s watching for me to come home and opens the door before I get the key in the lock so I literally walk into a hug when I step into the house. He looks at me with kindness and calls me “sweetness” or “my love” which is not a new thing but I hear it anew now and something feels less broken every time he says it. He’s pretty much been carrying me, every minute, without a lot of help, through our year.
Each morning, when I come into consciousness, my first thought starts to be “no, no, not another day already,” but before I can completely think it, before I have opened my eyes to the day, Nordic Boy is saying “I love you, I love you, I love you,” just like that, several times over, as if he knows about the fog and is pulling me back toward him. When he says this, I hear so many things in it. I hear You’re ok, I’m here, We’re together, I will take care of you, Our beautiful life, My sweetheart. All in this whispered morning mantra: I love you, I love you, I love you. And so there it is again: unconditional, simple, uncomplicated, open love. No qualifiers, no hard parts, no hidden hurts. In my lovely partner, I recognize it. I know what that is.
When I smile at that Nordic Boy, it feels like a real smile, a joyful smile, a me smile, and there is no fog between us.