Take Several Seats

Grief. Take several seats. I’m busy today. I am not feeling you today. You’ve been hanging out in my life for a long time. I know you far too well. You showed up here and there while Tony was sick. Back then I refused to let you into my life for any period. I couldn’t let anyone see that you had come to visit me. That you tried to stay. So I pretended not to know you. But you lurked there, just out of my line of sight. Just inside the shadows. Just inside the darkest corners of my soul. I saw you there, grief. But I sure as hell wasn’t going to acknowledge your presence. “No, I don’t see you. If I don’t see you, you don’t exist.” I shoved you back as hard as I could. Get thee behind me, grief. My husband was still living. He was still fighting. He didn’t want you here either. You were not going to steal my hope. You were not going to bring your friends, anger, despair, fear and pain, around either. …….. Oh, God, you’re back. Yes I know he’s gone now. Doesn’t mean you can come back. Did you somehow grow? Your shadow is longer. With Tony no longer standing between us… You think it’s okay to come on in. I still don’t want you here. But... The dust settled. The casseroles are all eaten. The black clothes and suits are hung in the back of the closet. Everyone has gone back to their lives. Tony’s ashes sit on the dresser. So you think now it’s okay? Well, no one else is around...come on in. I need the company. So come with me while I pretend I’m alive. I can’t work...grief is here. I can’t sleep...grief says sleeping will not help. I can’t eat...grief has made food tasteless. Grief says…”just cry. I’m here so just cry. Rock back and forth sobbing. I’m here for you. Smell his cologne. Avoid the places you went together. Don’t worry, I won’t judge you. But if you let me, I’m here to stay.” So grief and I, me and grief, we became friends. So close in fact, that grief was all people saw when they looked at me. Grief was in charge of my life, my home, my whole world. Since Tony wasn’t here to be those things for me, I let grief have its way. We were close companions, grief and I. And this was okay with me. Grief slowly but surely wormed its way in. Slowly and surely, grief tried to kill me. I was perfectly willing to let it too. On and on, day after day, grief lingered. It rested. It stayed. People did not know what to do when they saw me with grief, And so they did nothing. They pasted on smiles. They patted my shoulder. They ignored my tears. Grief brought its friends fear, despair, anger and pain. Grief and friends took turns in my life. Sometimes they were there together as well. They knew what they were doing. I felt like a puppet having my strings pulled by grief and its companions. It was exhausting. Until one day… I looked myself in the mirror… Grief was no longer standing directly behind me, It had moved back a little bit. The next day, anger took a few steps backward too. This became the way. Two steps forward, two steps backward. In the midst of moving back and forth, Something else changed. Grief had not taken my smile like it had for so long. My laugh sounded less brittle and felt different. Grief was no longer looming over me like a thundercloud. ……………. It is said that “grief is not a place to stay.” I say it moves in and stays. But you should never let it swallow you whole. Or take things away from you. So, grief, take several seats, except this one. This one is mine and has no room for you today.

By Cheryl Barnes

#grief #CherylBarnes

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