Grief Is Love, Bathe In It
I often wander my house in circles. I’m foggy a lot of the time, and when that’s the case, I tend to walk in circles. Just like my herding dog used to do. Denver, a mix of Border Collie and Chow, would pace in circles inside and outside of the house just keeping an eye on everything, but I’m not actually keeping an eye on anything--I’m just at a loss, trying to figure out what to do with myself. Looking for somebody who isn’t there. Looking for just a little trace of Pete that I missed the last hundred times I circled from the kitchen to the dining room to the living room to the kitchen…
Every time I circle through the kitchen I see a large photo of Pete that I hung there a few months after Pete died. It was given to us by a company for which Pete did guitar instructional DVDs and it’s an identical copy to the one they have hanging in their lobby. So, it’s a little shrine-like, but I don’t care. Pete and I loved to cook together. It was one of many things we really enjoyed doing together. We loved pondering what to have, rummaging through cookbooks for a great recipe, shopping for ingredients, and then spending a couple of hours cooking. He was always supportive of the fact that I’m a vegetarian even though he wasn’t. We’d find things to cook that worked for me, then we would sit down and enjoy all the effort we put into the meal and talk—or watch a good BBC mystery.
So I hung the photograph there, and I talk to him while I’m in the kitchen making something to eat. If it’s time to make supper, I pour a glass of red wine and toast him as if he was present. Does any of this really make me feel better? I don’t know yet, but for a moment it stops me from walking in circles.
The other day I was in my kitchen making some lunch, just feeling so bad and missing him so much. All the while, his photo was looking down on me, and I felt worse, then better, then worse, then better, all in a matter of minutes. Then it occurred to me that grief is love. The harder I grieve the more love I realize I feel and have felt for him. The pain of grief stabbing through my heart is a lot like the rush of intense love in my heart. You know the old saying “hurts so good!” Instead of pushing the grief away, I started to relish it and realize that it is all the love I have for Pete just moving through me. When I feel intense love, it’s much easier to function than when I feel intense grief. I’m still aware it’s all rolled into one thing and that there’s a physical aspect of Pete that I will never have again, but allowing myself to just relish in the love we felt for each other--just roll around in it, smile about it, cry about it--somehow is a relief, and it makes me stop my circling for a little while.
How does grief run you in circles?