A coworker gave me a tiny book when I came back to work, titled, “Grief… reminders for healing.” It fit in the palm of my hand, and I have read it and flipped through it a hundred times in the weeks following, reminding myself.
Know that their pain has passed, except for how it lives in your memory. You are the one in pain now. It is best to care lovingly for your wounds.
I try to lovingly care for my wounds. I take long baths and drink copious amounts of tea, I reread my favorite books, I eat bags of cheetos and then compensate with kale. I avoid liquor—it is too easy a fix, a fix that vanishes in harsh morning light with cotton mouth and a roving hangover.
But the wounds keep bleeding. This is harder than books told me it would be—there is no adequate way to express pain and mourning on paper, no way to warn others of how it feels when it comes.
I try. I write to remember her, because writing was what we did together, but everyone else does it better than me.
My grief is not poetic.
She and I would always say that the shit that happened to us was writing fuel. Hey, that’d be a good line for your novel, I’d tell her, and she’d grin and scribble it down. Use that, she’d tell me, when my emotions were getting in my way. Use that in your writing.
I can’t use this. And couldn’t she have at least given me that?
We wrote together for years, swapping stories and poems and even a novel, critiquing and rewriting and talking it out. We were writers, and we even when we couldn’t say it, we could write it.
But now, I have nothing and everything to say. I have tried to commemorate her over and over again, but I hate it every time. It is ugly and it is amateur and it is not good enough, nothing, nothing is good enough.
I want to tell her that I can’t use her death in my writing and that I’m mad about it, that her life was too good for me to write about, that she wasn’t flawed enough to make for a pretty, poetic poem about death and sadness.
She would be flattered that I thought her so wonderful a person, and she would tell me to try harder.
I’ll keep trying.