Oh, What Grief!
It was the holidays, a time to be happy and grateful and excited. However, a nineteen year old girl, little me, was sad. It was not the kind of sadness that went away because of mood swings. We all know that adolescence is an emotional volatile stage. I thought I would shake it off and wear my usual holiday mask: chilled, at ease and happy, yet I always felt out of place and alone. It was terrible to be so lonely even in a house full of people.
A month or two prior to Christmas holiday, my paternal grandmother had passed on. I remember it because the day she died, I knew it. I felt it deep in my bones.
In a dream, I talked to her.
“It’s okay Cúcú, I release you. Fare thee well. I love you.” I said confidently.
I attended to her for a number of months after old age caught up. I could not, even for a moment, let myself wonder why her wealthy kids did not employ for her a trained nurse. Yet they had no problem trusting a nineteen year old who had a myriad of issues to take care of her vulnerable grandmother without worrying that she might have a mental breakdown.
I still remember how traumatizing it was to watch her wither. Or hear her talk about her departed siblings. Or listening to her incoherent speech. However, I did my best to rise to the occasion even though I neglected myself and my feelings. Surely, there was no time to think about myself, yet my guardian needed me more urgently.
I did not know about grief. I could not cry because her demise had rendered me speechless and numb. In fact, I was so numb that I could not let myself to think about the reality that my grandmother was gone. Gone forever. Sigh!
Hadn’t we just spoken like adults two weeks prior? Where she answered one of the most hurtful question that I had carried over the years. She also revealed to me why she was so hurt by my parents’ marriage falling apart. And why it was better for us to live with her than with our father. Surely, how could she? How could she leave me? How? Why? Good Lord!
No tear rolled down my cheek that day or the six days after. Until the day I sat on my bed and waited for her to call out my name. I was used to quenching her thirst at ungodly hours. Or listening to her blubber about her childhood. But that day, there was only pin drop silence.
Coming to the sudden realization that she was gone hit me like a tone of bricks. I wept for her loss. I wept for losing the love that she showed me in the few months we spent together. My heart broke in so many places that day and the months that followed.
I still did not know that I was experiencing grief.
Fast forward, family gatherings, though tasteless to me, seemed to lose more meaning. She was also the strong gate that protected me from being verbally abused by her children. However, with her demise, the gate flung wide open. And by God, did I get what was coming!
In October this year, I started reading 'A Grief Observed’ by C.S Lewis and it reopened old wounds that were buried under piles of sadness and the struggle to survive. However, bit by bit, I am getting to feel the feels. I hope that makes sense?
On page 42, C.S Lewis says,
“Those somethings could be pictured as spheres or globes. Where the plane of Nature cuts through them—that is, in earthly life—they appear as two circles (circles are slices of spheres). Two circles that touched. But those two circles, above all the point at which they touched, are the very thing I am mourning for, homesick for, famished for. You tell me, ‘she goes on.’ But my heart and body are crying out, come back, come back. Be a circle, touching my circle on the plane of Nature.”
I have never felt so understood like the day I read those words. Because they put meaning to the feelings that I had suppressed for so long.
As I write these words, I have a little lump in my throat. I think about other people who have perfected the art of wearing masks during the holiday season. They appear happy yet deep inside they are breaking. Or worse, they are so numb to feelings. I also think about those who mourn losing loved ones during this season. The grief must be overwhelming. Oh, child!
I would like to write down some religious platitudes to console you, however, I’ll be lying to both of us. Because there’s no comfort in them. Even C.S Lewis knew it. He articulated it very well.
“Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand.”
(Page 42, A Grief Observed by C.S Lewis)
What I would really wish for you is that you get genuine bear hugs and someone to sit in silence with or laugh with. I hope you know that you no longer have to hide behind smiles and laughter. It is perfectly okay to own your feelings. Which reminds me, I hope you have a friend who you can be real with and not feel all weird.
Happy holidays dear reader!