I hate the word grief. I guess that it is the word most commonly used to describe the way I feel right now but I still don't like it. Perhaps the reason why I don't like it is the voice in my head that says to me, "How does Grief know how I feel! I don't even know Grief!" It is as if Grief is a person. A person who I don't particularly like and who I find extremely annoying, who shows up unexpected, unannounced, at the worst times to remind me how I feel. He doesn't even know how I feel- and I don't want to tell him. He makes me angry.
I don't like the expectation. The expectation that comes with Grief. The expectation that somehow, someone named Webster put a few words together to describe grief- and that is supposed to describe how I feel. Now, through Grief and Expectation, the world sees me. The world just keeps looking at me through Webster's eyes and supposes that it understands what he describes as grief, so therefore it supposes that it understands me! Then it looks away, going back to its business, knowing its better not to cry over spilled milk. The world looks away going back to the daily routine and putting Webster's definition of grief back on the shelf. The world has no time or use for grief, it is much more pleasant when it stays on the shelf where Webster put it. Grief does not know me, yet I am defined by grief. Grief does not define who I am, but when the world looks at me and sees grief, it reminds me that Grief thinks it knows me.
The truth is, grief really is like spilled milk. It's a mess! Everyone is sitting around the table eating and drinking when the glass of milk gets bumped. Everyone jumps. Everyone screams! People are in shock, some cry. They can't believe what just happened. Immediately people scurry around looking for ways to help. Sopping and mopping begin. The table linens are changed. Clothes are changed. The broken glass is swept up and special care is taken to get all the tiny fragments that went flying across the room. The dinner plate full of milk is thrown away. Then everyone sits down again, with clean clothes, another serving of dinner and the conversation resumes.
But the milk, keeps dripping. It runs through the crack in the table and starts dripping on the floor. The puddle on the floor soaks into the carpet below. As it dries, it leaves a foul smell and an ugly stain. Days later someone asks what that funny smell is and where is it coming from. Then they remember the spilled milk. Scrubbing and cleaning are not going to remove the stain. It is permanent.
I feel like the milk is still dripping. This was not just a glass of milk that spilled, this was huge. My whole life spilled all over the table. It took years to clean up the mess. There have been so many people who have worked so hard to help put everything back together but the milk is still dripping and the stain is still there under the table.
On Black Friday most of the world went shopping. I went to Fritz's grave. It was a beautiful day, as it has been every time I have gone to the cemetery. I was overcome with grief the moment I laid eyes on his gravestone. It was as if the pitcher of milk had just fallen, crashing against the beautiful new stone that had been set at Fritz's head. The milk splashed again over my entire life. Painful. Heart wrenching. Heaving sobs came up from deep within me and spilled all over that grave. I wanted to lay on top of it and sink down into the earth with him. I stood for a long time, paralyzed by the harsh reality that I cannot be with him any longer.
The tears began to slow and my heart became quiet as I sat down at the edge of the stone. The sun shined down on us as I sat there and wrote Fritz a letter. When I was finished I tucked my little dragonfly notepaper into an envelope, sealed it with a kiss, and placed it near his head. A small rock held it in place as I turned and walked away.
I wanted to leave grief there at the cemetery but it did not stay. It followed me home. The stain is still there, hiding under the table where the milk continues to drip. I am certain the stain is permanent.