Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Thousand Drops of Sorrow

I'm always learning something about grieving - mostly that it's never done, but people want you to be.

I'm well aware of the awkward glances between people if I dare to mention Avery. The flick of the eyes that say here we go again and aren't we done with this yet? I suppose that makes sense, especially the way I was brought up. In our family you don't dwell on things you can't control. You pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get going. You don't stand around talking about how sad something made you feel or how you ache with every fiber of your being. You're not the only one with problems, the world is filled with people with problems, so what makes yours so special? In our family you move on.

I suppose it would be easier if I were quieter. Didn't talk as much. Didn't put my stuff out there for everyone to read. I suppose it would be easier if I quietly slipped out my front door and into the Land of the Living trying my hardest to blend in like everyone else.

But I can't.

I didn't know how I would react or respond to my child's death. I didn't practice it or learn from any of my older cousins. I didn't plan my response and immediate steps. Grief was thrust upon me and I had no choice but to accept it. I couldn't turn and give it to anyone else. I couldn't politely decline no, thank you. It was dumped in my lap, legs crushed under its weight, arms pinned below the surface, struggling to breathe as it just kept coming and coming and coming.

And I had a choice: sit still and quiet under the crippling grip of grief so as not to make anyone else feel uncomfortable, or start clawing my way out.

I have always been well aware I didn't fit in with my family. Not just my immediate family, but my extended one as well. I was constantly being told I was reading more into things than what were actually there, trying to make things more difficult than they were. I was asked over and over why I couldn't just be like the other kids.

I did try. I really did. I tried to just walk down a driveway to a barn like the other kids, but what I felt was the light crush of gravel against the sole of my shoe, the blood of a thousand girls before me crossing prairies and plains pulsing through my veins, the weight of skirts brushing my ankles, shaking their way through tall grasses. I could feel the strain and worry, the breathlessness, the boredom of a journey of one hundred days. And yet, next to me the other kids were simply walking down a driveway to a barn.

I was a dreamer. I felt things so intensely but I couldn't explain it. Why didn't others tear up when the sun began its incredible climb? Why couldn't others see the sadness in a cow's eyes? Why was it just me whose breath was stolen when the heron took flight? Why was it just me who could feel the pulse of Eden running through a mighty Oak?

Why have I always felt too much when I'm surrounded by people who don't seem to feel much at all?

My one reprieve was my grandfather. He "got" me.

One early morning, as cows breath warmed the barn, he singled for me to follow him. I walked behind him, not daring to break the silence to ask where we were going. We walked into some long grass by the side of a field near the barn. As the sun rose higher, he knelt down. I knelt beside him. After a moment he waved his hand out in front of us. "See how the sun makes each dew drop sparkle?" he asked. I looked closer. A million sparkling diamonds winked at us. I smiled. "Each drop comes from heaven and holds a story. You don't ever want to rush the dew into drying. It'll all go when they're done telling their story."

We sat and watched the dew drops sparkling and singing. Each one letting its story shine out into the world.

I think about that now: not wanting to rush the dew drop's story. I feel covered, head to toe, in a thousand drops of sorrow, sent from heaven, that sparkle and glint too bright and cause people to squint and turn the other way out of uncomfortableness. I sense their uneasiness, their frustration. I can hear their eyes whisper why doesn't she just wipe all the drops off? That way she'd be done. Back to herself. And we can all move on?

I know they'll go when they're done telling their story. They're just not finished yet.