Friday, October 9, 2015
an assignment for school
Creative Writing Nonfiction
October 9, 2015
Word Count: 1117
To Name The Day
A personal essay
“I was left to my own devices
Many days fell away with nothing to show
And the walls kept tumbling down
In the city that we love
Great clouds roll over the hills
Bringing darkness from above
But if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
Nothing changed at all?
And if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
You've been here before?
How am I gonna be an optimist about this?
How am I gonna be an optimist about this?”
-Pompeii, by Bastielle
I haven’t put pen to paper in over a year.
It feels dishonest to NOT be writing, almost like lying by omission. And I think maybe I am a little ashamed that I am still so sad because it would seem disrespectful to be honest and admit that on paper anytime I would try. Almost as if owning up to the darkness I face every day discounts the enormous amount of love and help I know that I have from those that still surround me. Everything hasn’t been awful all of the time.
as time carries on, the amount of gloom that is still here seems disproportionate to some of the ‘good things’ present now. But, that’s the thing about time. It does NOT heal all. It just doesn’t. All time can do is change the perspective, or the distance, from which you are able to view an event. Time just measures. It cannot heal.
and yet. It is all I have.
Because a grief as deep as this is like a sticky, hot vat of wax that you initially sink into until it covers everything in a suffocating, immobilizing, thick blanket of impenetrable armor. The only way to breathe is to claw out from the inside, and the measure of time provides the only tool that allows someone to gradually scrape away enough of the cocoon to even just take a breath. But the shell still surrounds, constricting the lungs and limiting movement. It is a slow, painful process to peel away the tiers that have stuck themselves to you like a glue, sometimes it’s necessary to rip the flesh off just to scrape an inch away. It takes time. Time. But just because enough time has gone by to allow you peel away the coating it doesn’t mean you’re healing; even if you’re able to remove all the layers and layers of grief to reveal yourself, it is too late. Grief can soak through your skin, permeating every last bit of your being, infecting your blood, and wrecking havoc on your internal functions. It has not just changed who you are, but it has BECOME who you are. It has polluted every fiber of what knits you together. They say the only antidote is time, but all time can do is measure and the disease rages ahead of the cure.
You still have to get up every day. You still have to go through the motions. You recognize the need to care for yourself and function. Time can breed familiarity, but not healing. There’s comfort in a routine, but don’t mistake that for getting passed things. There is a sacrifice in each heavy step forward that comes with giving up the past and trying to accept the future. And the thing about time is, no matter what happens, good or bad, time doesn’t erase the haunting images of tragedy witnessed, the things you wish you could forget. Time can’t erase the fantasy images in your head of the future you thought you’d have or the memories of the past you don’t want to forget.
Perhaps this is why I choose not to mark the day it happened. I do nothing to publically acknowledge the anniversary of the day that he died. A day is only as important as the significance I give to it, and I choose not to give it any recognition. All that day does is mark the passage of time. A tally mark in my mind’s eye. It merely shows the distance at which I can view the past and reminds me how very long there still is to go, without him. It does not remind me to think about him. It does not remind me to honor him. I do not miss him any more on that particular day. It was a miserable day. Awful. The worst that I’ve faced. It plays over and over in my head on a never-ending loop like a bad horror movie. I watched him take his last breath and then had to look into my kids’ much-too-young faces and tell them that their father was dead. And I don’t need a day to remind me how long it’s been. I count each week. Each hour. Each breath since he died. Maybe it feels like a day that should be set aside to reflect and to honor his memory. But that doesn’t make any sense either, because he was so much more than the miserable way he died. And giving this particular day a name or setting it aside seems like giving in to everything the cancer took from him. We talk about him constantly in our home and we honor him every day in the way that we remember him and tell his stories. It’s not that I don’t want to hear from anyone. I appreciate the thoughts and connections. I love that some of you understand that I can’t get passed this. It just means more to me when you reach out on an average Tuesday when a song comes on the radio and you remember how he loved Led Zeppelin or you beat your personal best in a run and that reminded you of his passion for running. You don’t need to set aside a day to remember that. And no amount of time will change that.
I am adding a caveat to the ending because I want to acknowledge the irony, or perhaps the hypocriticalness, of turning in a paper on the anniversary of my husband’s death saying that I don’t want to acknowledge the day. This assignment coming due on this day was pure coincidence, but it got me thinking about why I hadn’t written on my blog and what I would want to say. I have taken posts from others off my Facebook wall and asked people not to tag me in things regarding that day because of my refusal to give the day significance, and this seemed like a good opportunity to say why. I’m just going through the motions and I have to do whatever helps.