You are a little less put together these days. You’re not sleeping much; at times, you are forgetful. You lose your thought, mid-sentence, and need help remembering the point; today, it's your husband. Why did you marry him, you are asking yourself. And your job: You could've been an artist! Traveled the world! But it was your birthright to be responsible. To be here. It was you who noticed your father looking ill, and demanded he see a specialist. You who initiated unfathomable conversations about hospice care and his “quality of life.” You were there when it was his time, even when it wasn't your time, to let him go.
And now I see you frantically caring for everyone he left behind; sufficiently outrunning your own feelings, until today. Today, one of the boys left his bike in the driveway and you didn't notice until you’d backed up over it. And everyone in the office pissed you off. You are remembering it is almost Thanksgiving: the day dad got up at five to put the turkey in, and start the stuffing he'd make from scratch, and the house would smell of every childhood comfort you covet now. Today you let yourself feel that. The weight of his absence; just how much you are missing.
Do you recall the birthing classes required during your first pregnancy? The doctors warned us that tensing against the pain would actually prolong labor. I remember how the nurses encouraged us to keep our bodies loose, to unclench when the contractions hit. This is what life is demanding of you now, my friend, to surrender to the grief, trusting you will not tear.
Did you know then, when your son appeared, briefly, that it still wasn't over? We found out that babies move in imperceptibly slow undulations until they make their final push to us. Forward, back. Forward, back...until their entry into life. Don't you see what our bodies were teaching us?! There is beauty in pain. It is possible for beauty and pain to coexist, nodding to one another with reverence.
I see you. Even when you think no one notices, I see you.
And like all those who came before me, I’m holding a lamp up for you. I'll sit with you here, until the darkness becomes light again.