I realized that I rarely write about things that are going well. Lately it’s been mostly just pity parties and fume sessions, where I type angrily and mostly in all caps. And that’s okay, I have needed those. But this time will be something different, hopefully. I started writing these words weeks ago, but never wrapped them up. Reading them has reminded me of all the good in my life. I have needed that, too.
This week I had an emergency. It involved snakes. BIG ones. Huge. TWO of them. My neighbor (and bishop) who saved me from them called them “garter” snakes. They were at least two feet long. I straight up panicked. But then I immediately went through a list of people who I could call.
I’ve had lots of emergencies similar to this, though this is the first involving devil reptiles, thank goodness. Usually when I have an emergency, I hear this little voice in my head reminding me that I’m alone. That I’m the only one that’s responsible for dealing with this. That no one else in the world can help. That I’m alone on the island with two kids to take care of. And it makes me feel so hopeless and isolated.
But this time, I didn’t have any of that. This time, I just thought of who I did have instead of who I didn’t. I didn’t think about what Gregg would have done right away. I mean, later I thought about how he would have laughed at me for being so scared of those deadly snakes, picked them both up, kissed them to just gross me out more, and promptly walked them to the nearest field to set them free. Now if they had been spiders, it would not have gone down like that. The man hated spiders. His mom used to tell a story about he almost fainted once when he saw one. Anyway, I didn’t think about that right away, I just thought about what I was going to do. How I would deal with this emergency, this very serious emergency. And then I thought about all the people I’m surrounded by who love and support me and who own shovels.
Grief carries a lot of different things with it. Sometimes I feel this big empty hole of loneliness inside of me. It sits in the center of my chest, deep and gaping and throbbing. When I try to breathe, it just grows bigger. And it feels like it’s swallowing up everything inside of me. And I actually feel it. It’s the strangest sensation to have emotions manifest physically.
But then other times, I feel whole. I am filled up with gratitude and joy and love. When I breathe, those feelings swell and grow and I am both grounded and floating on air. And I feel that wholeness.
These conflicting emotions, these opposing perceptions of the world around me are one of the only perks about grief. Grief gives you the chance to feel, and feel strongly. There are times when I go numb because I can’t even handle how strong they are. And for as far I still have to go, they’ve helped me- forced me- to grow in ways that I would not have grown without feeling them.