Lightly Child, Lightly. (Part II)

5:05 am. Tuesday morning.

Mid-January, 40° F.  40° F, and Australia is burning.

Cabin is quiet, but for the heater humming, knocking down the chill.

Headlights illuminate I-95, dry road. 74 mph. Speed lane.  I pass Truckers on my right, a convoy racing to beat rush hour into Manhattan.  Google Maps updates arrival time in Midtown: 55 minutes.

I re-grip the steering wheel, shift in my seat, adjust the seat belt, uncomfortably snug across my lower belly.

Two nights before. At kitchen table. Fingers untie the bow, then move to the white wrapping paper covering the gift from the Chocolate Chalet.  Hand made chocolates, hand selected by a friend, a colleague, and her children. Milk Chocolate. Raspberry jelly. Cherry. Vanilla Creme. Dark Chocolate. Nut clusters.  I cordon off a Do Not Cross area around the table signalling My Box, My Chocolates, My Zone.

One night before. Monday Night. At kitchen table. With half of the chocolates remaining. I re-established my position, the cordoned off area, and went at it again.

And, there it goes. An entire box of chocolates in a span of a few minutes during back to back evenings, when the world stopped. No, Shoulder PainNo, Work. No, Brother Gone.

I step out of the car, hand the keys to the parking attendant, and walk.  Not to the office, it was early yet. But I walk down Broadway, with the lights beaming down from the buildings in Times Square.  A few morning walkers, and me.  And snippets of Renkl’s essay “After the Fall” drift in and out.

There’s no making peace with it.

There’s no closure.

You wear it under your clothes like a film.

Time claims you: your belly softens, your hair grays, the skin of your grief will loosen, soften, drape your hard bones.

The flowers turn their faces to your face.

Walk out into the springtime, and look: the birds welcome you with a chorus.


Notes:

  • Photo: Mine. Looking down Broadway in Times Square. Tuesday morning, January 14, 2019.
  • Post Inspiration: “This talk of making peace with it. Of feeling it and then finding a way through. Of closure. It’s all nonsense. Here is what no one told me about grief: you inhabit it like a skin. Everywhere you go, you wear grief under your clothes. Everything you see, you see through it, like a film. It is not a hidden hair shirt of suffering. It is only you, the thing you are, the cells that cling to each other in your shape, the muscles that are doing your work in the world. And like your other skin, your other eyes, your other muscles, it too will change in time. It will change so slowly you won’t even see it happening. No matter how you scrutinize it, no matter how you poke at it with a worried finger, you will not see it changing. Time claims you: your belly softens, your hair grays, the skin on the top of your hand goes loose as a grandmother’s, and the skin of your grief, too, will loosen, soften, forgive your sharp edges, drape your hard bones. You are waking into a new shape. You are waking into an old self. What I mean is, time offers your old self a new shape. What I mean is, you are the old, ungrieving you, and you are also the new, ruined you. You are both, and you will always be both. There is nothing to fear. There is nothing at all to fear. Walk out into the springtime, and look: the birds welcome you with a chorus. The flowers turn their faces to your face. The last of last year’s leaves, still damp in the shadows, smell ripe and faintly of fall.” ~ Margaret Renkl, from “After the Fall” in Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss (Milkweed Editions (July 9, 2019)
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Comments

  1. ‘you inhabit it like a skin.’ such a perfect description of grief.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. just let that box of chocolates happen, and cope with it lightly 🙂

    here’s wishing you a happy weekend…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Time…it all takes time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So very much I could comment on. Let’s start with the heavyweight part: Me thinks your pain in the shoulders could (might) stem from the heavy weight you’re carrying around. The immense sadness and terrible anger over the death of your brother. You just CANNOT carry it any longer?! Am I just going back to experiences of my own life? Who knows. It strikes me as a possibility.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Then, the chocolates. Here, you strike me as a bit of an egoist. (And sadly, you remind me of Hero Husband who did exactly the same thing as you, this week!)
    Even if it is YOU who gets a box of chocolates, you should at least perfunctionally offer them also to your wife! That’s just unkind. And know that those chocs won’t do you any good because you didn’t treasure each little parcel of sweetness and goodness – you stuffed yourself with them. You’re doing a ‘bear favour’ to your body, you give yourself no joy whatsoever and you’re forgetting about Susan – all at once. Did they make you happy (or at least happier)? It doesn’t look like it.
    Sorry pal…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had to google “egoist” – didn’t know what it meant.

      “Egoist”: a self-centered or selfish person (opposed to altruist). an arrogantly conceited person; egotist. an adherent of the metaphysical principle of the ego, or self; solipsist.

      And to Egoist and sweets, yes, you are right. And for that moment, I couldn’t be happier.

      Share, hmmmm, perhaps everything else but this.

      🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • WHAT? You didn’t know the word egoist? You must live in a world of bliss, my friend…. 😉 Is it really a word you don’t use in the E language? Are you always saying ‘self-centered’. This is SO interesting!
        Hero Husband had a ball when I read him your reply….. you male, self-centered, egoistic (beloved) human beings!

        Like

  6. 3. Renkl’s prose is so spot on, in so many ways. But don’t forget, she’s not ONLY talking about human feelings and observations, it’s also her landscape of nature. I always find that EVERYTHING is finally ‘only’ a question of interpretation and each and everyone of us can interpret at free will – we can prove everything and the contrary of it. It’s a matter of our mind, not a mathematical or scientific ‘judgement’. I experienced many different ways of loss, and I couldn’t cope well with quite a number of them – and I’m not saying that it gets easier to accept when one gets a bit older. I just wish for you to be able to let the pain (and anger and loss) wash over you rather than eat it up and feel it like a hard, unmoving ball in your heart and body. Peace!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Felt like Mary Oliver might soothe your heart today…

    “You do not have to be good
    You do not have to walk on your knees
    for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body
    love what it loves.
    Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
    Meanwhile the world goes on.
    Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
    are moving across the landscapes,
    over the prairies and the deep trees,
    the mountains and the rivers.
    Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
    are heading home again.
    Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
    the world offers itself to your imagination,
    calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
    over and over announcing your place
    in the family of things.”💕💚💕

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Chocolate can fix anything, if only temporarily. I seldom share my chocolate. Glad you enjoyed it. Time, of course, is the ultimate fixer. When I lost my brother, a number of years ago, a friend sent me a note, “Time removes the pain, but the love never ends.” She was right.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. The Arabs mourn their dead for 40 days.
    A mother that just gave birth is left alone for 40 days, to tend to her little-one.
    80 days if she had twins.
    Both cases because maybe like Arhundati Roy says, ” there’s a hole in the universe the shape of what left.”

    In both cases this hole is inside of us really.
    A shadow, in the shape of them, printed on the inside walls of our souls.

    And for this shadow to exist there must be light.

    Take your time…

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Maybe soon … ‘Walk out into the springtime, and look: the birds welcome you with a chorus.’

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ah, the things that weigh heavy on our chests. I’ve learned grief is a process and while each of us goes through the process differently, we all have to go through it. Many years ago I learned the phrase “joy shared is joy increased and grief shared is grief diminished “. At the same time, do not underestimate the healing value of chocolate covered, raspberry jelly rings.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. A close friend who lost both her parents and her brother in quick succession told me she ate a lot of comfort food during that difficult period. We do what we have to do to stay afloat when it all seems too much. I like to call those days maintenance days. We don’t get ahead but rather try not to slip under. Thank you for sharing these personal excerpts of your grief. 😊🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Grief is something we all (perhaps with a very few exceptions) will go through in our lives, and probably more than once. We deal with it in different ways, but one constant I have found is that it takes time. In some cases a long, long, long time. But finally it finds a corner in our brain and stays there, to be gingerly visited when we feel ready to do that, and it becomes bearable.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I feel your pain my friend. The deacon tells me that there’s no substitute for “feeling that feeling”. That one has to “experience” going “through that tunnel” to come out at the other side. He asked me not to rush or not suppress that process, and to avoid the overwhelming “waves” of sadness to grieve often. Work it. What a tall order! Ouff!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Dearest David, feelings are integral to grief. They flow. Sometimes, freely. Sometimes not. Sometimes, we stuff them with chocolates — and eating a box of chocolates is an acceptable way of expressing your grief in the moment, especially when experiencing a loss as great as yours.

    Grieving is hard work. Sending you love and grace on your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Never allow or listen to anyone who tries to diminish Your Feelings…Grief is so Individual…and for me I feel that Grief is a Life Long Process and when We Lose a Loved One to Estrangement or Physical death We Must Mourn…Our Body, Our Heart and Soul Need Time…Our Love for them continues because We Loved So Deeply…Tethered Connection, Always Bound in Soul…and for me I arrive at a Point of Gratefulness for Having Had them in My Life…For they have Touched Me and Helped Me to Be Who I am…

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Late to the table, pal, but almost glad, as I have enjoyed the beautiful responses as much as the original post. No one, right way to grieve, and certainly no time limits. My wish for you is that the ache soon recedes, overshadowed by the many happy memories your heart surely harbors.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. David, I am deeply sorry for the loss of your brother. I am blown away by the breathtakingly beautiful comments from the caring community you have here. So much love and support! I hope it helps ease the grief of anyone reading the words here. Your blog and your followers are amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I like to think I got no griefs, but thats not true. i keep them all right here, at the surface and close enough to reach when I start getting haed hearted.. I need them. I guess once upon a time I was really good at ignoring them. so you story reminds me of my mothers table. And the old man.
    https://srevestories.blogspot.com/search?q=levitz

    Liked by 1 person

  20. This is the truest essay on grief I have ever read. We do fear the pain of it. We wonder how we will get through it. It colors our days and accompanies us to bed every night. Losing our loved ones feels like the most unnatural thing in the world and yet it is a universal experience. We are all the walking wounded. It helps to bind each others wounds. God Bless.

    Like

  21. It’s only a short term fix, but sometimes a little hit of serotonin makes a difference, helps you get through the day. We are thinking of you and your family.
    https://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~sather/why-does-chocolate-make-us-happy/

    Liked by 1 person

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