Revisiting an Old Grief

She pressed her back into the cool cinderblock of the classroom and watched vacantly as the children rushed about, their thumbs pressed eagerly on controllers, robots tightly clutched to their excited chests.

Grief showed in dark heavy rings under her eyes, like a sign saying “Look at me, I just cried the whole way here.” She tried to blend into the wall.

The text she’d sent, a declaration of love and an offer of lunch, should not have received the response that it did.  A returned voicemail from the daughter of her friend, saying that her mother was dying.  Saying her mother loved her and that she was special to them all.

She had known her friend was dying for months.  She had known it the first time her friend sent the words “stage 4 colon cancer.”  She cried half the day.  But her life consumed her, the hours she had that were not filled by her job were filled with making it up to her family. She just didn’t have “time” to get out to see her friend as much as she wanted. Except she knows she did, she just thought there would be more time.

Now, she stands alone in the crowd and silently thanks the fellow mother that rubbed her back but didn’t ask questions.  Her friend is dying and her heart hurts.  She feels helpless.

So she crouches in the corner, her pen in her hand, and she writes it all down on a blank page of her planner, the planner that represents the last year of her life spent on things that didn’t really matter, and then puts it away in her purse.  Oddly, she feels better.  She is able to leave the cinderblock and be present for her child while he drives his block-stacking robot. She will grieve later, often, but not right now.  

It is years later and she still finds herself overcome by tears and sorries. So many sorries whispered in the dark, a million times over the last seven years. Every year when spring approaches and the snowfall becomes rain, she is reminded that this is a time of great sorrow and loss. She can’t escape the sadness of spring, even in times when she doesn’t remember. Her body, her heart- they remember these losses and it is not until she finds herself driving past the bay on a gray day and wondering why her chest feels so hallow, that she remembers she lost them all in the spring. Her friend, her mother, and her father at the edge of winter. They all melted with the snow.

Photo by Irina Iriser on

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