An ode to grieving
“Time heals all wounds,” they say, but time is so indefinite – so uncertain, so relative – that its reassuring quality as a proverbial axiom diminishes. Maybe I’m still dwelling in stage two of the grieving process – anger – which has undoubtedly clouded my judgement. Or maybe I’m not some mechanized human whose internal neurological functioning can be automatically categorized into different stages of coping, almost as if these stages were monolithic to all humanity. The latter resonates more deeply with the complexity of mankind.
What people don’t understand about the grieving process is that there is no grieving process, just the act of grieving itself. Semantically-speaking, the word “process” implies a series of steps taken in order to meet a desired goal which, in the case of grief and loss, is the acceptance of reality; living without pain or suffering. But with process comes the homogenization of a neurologically diverse humanity that copes with events differently — and the false expectation that you will one day just idyllically wake up and feel no pain, the process being ‘completed.’ Process suggests an end, a climactic denouement, but there is no end to grief.
Pain will take permanent residence in the innermost workings, however subtle or undetectable they are in certain moments of your life as time passes, of your soul and being; greeting you sporadically, shifting to and fro in intensity. It will breathe life in spontaneous bursts and sleep when one’s mind is distracted. The only thing time does, truly, is strengthen your neurological ability to cope with this reoccurring pest so that as you go on living your life, the pain becomes tolerable. But it never fully disappears into oblivion.
Society dictates that I’m supposed to ignore the pain and put on a brave front for my family and friends because I’m a role model to those whom look to me for guidance. I’m supposed to cry when I’m alone and recover fully within a year or so, unless I’m working in corporate America; in that case, I get a week. I’m supposed to throw myself completely, religiously, into my work to satiate my readers’ desires — capitalizing on this “relatable” moment of grief as an opportunity to garner likes, hits, sympathy comments. Maybe my popularity will surge, then. That’s what I’m supposed to do, according to the stages of grief and coping, but instead I’ve done the opposite.
I’m a different person now – more melancholic, introspective, unrefined. Cereal bowls have become mirrors. Driving is now a transcendental experience; my mind escapes my body in its mechanized wheel-steering state. My eyes are fixated on the road, peripherals activated, but my vision is rewinding memories in a film box. Years and years of memories. Lectures move slowly; the professor’s mouth utters words that somehow don’t translate into vibrations my eardrums can transduce. Was he always this incomprehensible? Death does unspeakable things to the mind and body that one cannot accurately capture until it begins to affect the relationship between oneself and one’s ability to function in society.
I’m admittedly ashamed that I couldn’t be my sociable self during my month-long trip to England this summer; that I couldn’t show my coworkers the past me–the convivial conversationalist I once was. The girl who got dumped by a football player because she talked too much and it was overwhelming his five-second attention span. Instead, they saw an introverted, antisocial anti-conversationalist who was depressing to be around. But I didn’t ask for this. Really, who does? I didn’t ask for my best friend to die suddenly while I was thousands of miles away in a different country, fatuously singing Lady Gaga into my Grey Goose microphone at Cirque de Soir. All texts, including the one announcing her departure, went ignored. I didn’t ask for this, but it still happened. Such is life in all its fucked up braggadocio. It’s something I’ve learned to accept, even if others can’t.
There is only one thing I want more than my old self back and that is my best friend. I don’t ever see the pain subsiding or myself becoming desensitized to She’s the Man, Les Miserables or every Coldplay album ever released. But I do see myself one day approaching her absence with appreciation as opposed to utter dejection; that one day I will listen to “Magic”, Chris Martin’s lilt voice transversing through memory lane, and instead of breaking down into tears that could fill an ocean, I’ll reminisce on our most joyous memories together and smile.
So, yes, I’ve changed—believe me, I am fully cognizant that I’m not the funnest person to be around, the best person to hold a conversation with or the well-groomed, peppy person I was two months ago before life threw the worst curveball. But don’t tell me to move on or that time heals all wounds; it is asking me, unsuccessfully, to forget the girl I shared fifteen years of my life with — the selfless girl who was there for me every single time I had a lupus flare-up, riding with me in the back of emergency ambulances, cracking jokes about all the ice cream I would eat afterwards; the beautiful girl that, despite her crippling leukemia that kept her bedridden for months, always viewed our unjust maelstrom of a world through an optimistic, rosy-colored lens. Leave your shibboleths at home. The wound will heal, but nature will proceed, unobstructed, in the midst of my complete obstruction, forming scars in its place. But her abundant hope and unwavering faith in God is a scar I will forever wear with pride.
So excuse me for grieving, but I’m not apologetic for my actions taken – or those not taken. I’m not sorry for looking around the room in desperation while you’re talking to me. I’m not sorry for choosing to be by myself, to sit by myself with my headphones in, instead of joining your group in games of God-knows-what and excessive photo-taking. I’m not sorry for being a “party pooper” or “Debbie downer” in the midst of your futile attempts to start small talk.
I’m simply not sorry.