Tuesday 3 April 2018

I'm not a fan...

Don’t you think it’s weird that mourning
sounds exactly the same as morning.

One is a reaction to an ending
and the other is a brand new start.
In one, a light extinguishes
and in the other, the sun rises to chase away the night.

To be honest, I’m not a big fan of either.

But as dawn breaks on our new reality without you,
it’s a harsh truth that life goes on.
So, we get up.
We carry on as
we carry you along
with us in our hearts.

Drink the double-shot of reality to kickstart the day as we
brace for the platitudes that are supposed to make us feel better...

“The early bird gets the worm!”
“They are in a better place now!”

Bitch, I don’t want the worm and
who the fuck knows where they’ve gone?
And what place was better than being right here,
with us?

But we can’t say that, can we.
We are supposed to smile and nod.
Extend our palms
gratefully receiving these tidbits of tired old bullshit
just because people can’t take a second
to think something original.

They say they don’t know what to say
but here I am, not knowing how to even breathe.

Words have no meaning,
they are lumps of sound
stuck in other people’s throats
as they stare at me blankly, saying “Let me know if…”

Seems like my emotions might be inconvenient.

Gratitude for platitudes is surely
the hardest pill to swallow
when you’re raw and hollow and
all you can feel is a howling depth of sorrow.

Something irreplaceable has been
ripped away from you and
you’re torn up inside but expected
somehow to hide your true feelings.

Why is it that some people disallow grief to show his face?
We all know him - he’s a constant in this race
that we call life.

He’s the counterpoint to joy,
the balance of desolate emptiness to the feeling of being brimful of butterflies and sunshine.
You see, maybe they were onto something when they exclaimed “GOOD GRIEF!”
because grief is the price of loving with your whole being.

We run up a great debt through the act of relating.
Through all the highs and lows -
the frustrating and placating,
the intimating and fornicating,
the instigating and conversating -
our intimacy is tallied up.

Our love runs a tab,
unwittingly, you see,
because we all forget that we’re not actually immortal.
Then the end comes and we are called to account.
Your debt is in arrears, sign here and pay in tears.

So every salty drop is a mortgage of love.
I give it willingly,
for what you meant to me
cannot be matched by any earthly sum.

And so, just like every other morning,
I have to get up and face this mourning.

But, to be honest, I’m not a big fan of either.

Kath Teeboon

Copyright: the author asserts her moral right to be recognised as the creator of this work. Do not reproduce without express permission.

Monday 2 April 2018

My friend, grief

We’ve met a few times before, grief and I. 

Sometimes, it’s been a passing hello on the street. Occasionally, it’s been a short stay. Other times, grief has taken up residence in my soul. This time it’s the latter. 
The return of an old friend.

Late at night, grief comes knocking. When I answer the door, he stands there apologetically with two full suitcases and a carry bag. A long stay, then. 
Who is it this time?

In the first hour, denial is a friend to me. She shoos grief away and shuts the door. Assures me that he has the wrong address and she’ll see about finding him somewhere else to stay. It is all a terrible mistake. 
She’ll sort it out. 

But in the spare room, grief is quietly unpacking his belongings. Settling in. Putting on the kettle. Patting the dog. Making himself at home. As he knocks on the door to hand me a cup of tea, one look says it all. 
So it’s true, then.

Organisation rushes in, pushing grief into the corner, demanding the phone calls be made. Messages must be sent, she cries. There are people who need to know and we must step into the role of responsible one. She thrusts the phone into my hand and my fingers blindly dial; a voice that I’m sure isn’t mine calmly speaks.
News breaks, and grief’s empire spreads. 

Yet he still sits quietly in the corner. Apologetic that his presence is such a bother. A crumpled black suit hangs loosely from narrow shoulders. He’s a man who is called to do his job but does not enjoy the process. He does it because nobody else can. 
Nobody else will. 

Wailing and howling, sorrow arrives. Never one to shy away from expression of feelings, he takes over the place. This is his show, after all. He’s the star here. Let there be no death marked without sorrow. Let it out, he says. Let it go. Feel the pain; that sharp, burning, nauseating pain from your very depths. 
Let me out. 

I reach out to grief and take his hand. Nod my head and pull him into an embrace. I feel his boney shoulders tense and then relax. Welcome back, friend, I whisper. You are not reviled here.
You are the price I pay for love. 

Insomnia creeps in and takes over. Tonight will be a night for staring blankly at the ceiling, kicking off the duvet, compulsively checking Facebook. She sits heavy on my chest, bearing silent witness. Somewhere between witching hour and dawn, she slips out. 
Uneasy sleep takes me.

Grief shakes me awake just as birdsong starts. For a brief, blissful moment, I am unaware. Then his face comes into focus and he hands me a taste of my new bittersweet reality. It all comes rushing back, and for a moment I am breathless. Behind him, denial, organisation, sorrow, and insomnia sit and wait. 

They’re all here to mourn you. 

Kath Teeboon

Copyright: the author asserts her moral right to be recognised as the creator of this work. Do not reproduce without permission.