I could have – and perhaps should have – written a book on grief back in the ’80s and ’90s when friends were constantly dying, dead, or dealing with someone else’s death as AIDS ravaged my circles like a tornado.
One thing I learned, among many other things young people should not have had to learn so soon, was that no emotions are inappropriate, if expressed in a healthy way. I lost many friends, too many to count, particularly as I purposely dove into circles of support believing – with good reason – that they would likely accompany me to my death.
I’m still here.
The circles have changed almost completely.
Grief, or at least waves of mourning, began to slow down in my life at some indefinite point in time shortly after the misnamed “cocktail” of antiretrovirals became available.
Then Dad died. Suddenly. In his garden. Five years ago May 4. I remember the pain of watching my mother grieve her best friend, her husband of fifty years-less-two-months. It was heart-breaking. We lost our Dad, too, of course. He had just turned seventy-five a month earlier. I cry just thinking about those days of raw mourning.
Mom says she was just beginning to move in to a new phase – grief never ends – these five years later when my sister called her with the news that she and I were an hour’s cab ride away; that there had been an accident the previous night and Craig was seriously injured. Was that just a month ago yesterday that we arrived in Perth? While in some respects it seems like yesterday it also seems so very much longer. Our hearts have since broken into many pieces. Please may it not be so, literally.
As Jean Barkley said in her eulogy we had rehearsed this in our minds when neither Craig nor I were expected to see our fortieth birthdays. I’m now 47. Craig was a few days shy of 52. Somehow this ‘borrowed time’ does not have a gift feel to it today as I sob more deeply than I have since, perhaps, the burial. Emma watches me in stunned silence. Damn, I’m down to toilet paper or paper towels.
Oh well, I had planned to go out anyway, if for no other reason than to watch the parade of visitors in the Village here for the U.S. Memorial Day weekend.
Maybe I will not cry sitting on the patio of Timothy’s Coffees. Maybe I will.
Something else Jean said, quoting Craig,
“Wishing you the kind of peace and joy that are only
to be found in the eye of the storm.”
May it be so. May it be so.