I’ve experienced a few different kinds of grief in my life. We all have. The emptiness that follows when someone you love leaves. Whether they walk out of your life because they want to or because death came calling and saying no wasn’t an option. The sense of loss is the same regardless of how the person leaves. It tears a part of your soul and while time and distance from their memories help the torn edges join, you will always feel a dull ache where that tear is.
Life sucks and then you die. I used to say that all the time growing up. It sounded like a good mantra – as if saying those words would mean I was (albeit falsely) prepared for the disappointments that life would throw my way. False bravado. In the blood of champions. Hah. Now I realise how dishonest those words were. Not just because I was lying to myself but because I’ve set myself up to believe that death would be the worst of it.
Death is merely an action by which a being is no longer physically among us. Their presence lingers. In our minds, in our lives, in our actions. People don’t leave, their bodies do. You don’t lose a person, you lose their body. Every single day I’m reminded of this. It hurts every time. My eyes well up on their own. It’s the memories, the laughs, the words that remind me every time of what we won’t be seeing anymore. What I won’t know or get to feel ever again.
Loss. Gone. No more. Passed. These words don’t adequately describe the anguish we feel when someone you love has left you. They don’t leave. They are simply no more here. Perhaps they’re somewhere out there watching, experiencing our lives without interacting with us. I’d like to hope this is true. But that thought doesn’t help me and it won’t help anyone who has experienced someone going away: there it is again, ‘going away’ as if they’ve gone on a short holiday and any minute now they’ll come dashing through the door armed with new stories to to tell.
Grief is not something that passes. It stays with you like a faithful pet. Side by side, ready to appear when a familiar joke is said, in the hair of that girl walking past, on those cards you get once a year, in the eyes of your best friend when they come calling, in the sheets that were left unmade. In the clothes you find under the bed, on the phone between laughs with an old friend, in the spring sunshine, in the cold in front of the TV. Always there, never forgotten.