That line really struck me, as I’ve spent the last 16 days working daily on a new book. The work has me diving back into my journals from those first early days of grief. In a way, maybe I live these things three times: when they happened, when I put them on the page, and now again, when the page brings those moments back to me.
I find myself lost – in a good way – back in those early days. I feel like I’m finding a part of my heart, a part of myself, that was lost underneath just the dust and dirt of time, that process of “moving on.” It’s not really a moving on. Not away from love, or Matt, or who we were, or who I was. It’s more that the immediacy of that grief, the enormity and all of everything, has shifted. Even faded. There are other things in my life now.
If you read that and shuddered – don’t click away yet.
My biggest fear when Matt first died was not that I would always feel this way, but that I would not always feel this way. My biggest fear, my biggest point-of-rage at all things unfair, was that life would resume its normalcy. If something this large could somehow take its place in the receding history of my life – what was the point of anything? If everything takes on the same haze and shades of gray, how could anything be real?
I see, in my mind, a series of hills in the distance, all equally eroded, all things equally soft. It isn’t true, but it is the shape of my fear.
That first year, the first two years, were so full of love and intensity. Things happened – regularly – that let me know I was not alone here. Something was with me, beside me, companioning me. I was not in the mundane and ordinary world. As difficult as it was in large respects, I miss the stripped down reality of life. Intensity on intensity: I do well in that environment. Depth and amazement and beauty – they were part of my life Before, and held an even larger place in my After.
Life is far more ordinary now.
As much as I wanted to keep my foot jammed inside that doorframe, as much as I wanted that intense deep two-way connection to remain, it wasn’t in my power to make it stay. I try to remind myself I did not fail. Life changed because life changes. Because it simply does.
I moved forward with my life because I had to. Because there is no other real option. I moved forward because I needed to pay bills, and work, and pack, and move, and live. There was a period there when the details of making this new life took more space than actually inhabiting this new life. There was a period there where, though grief existed, I had neither time nor space to access it. It was not time to feel. There was no time to drop down into myself, to find and feel that love.
A callous develops, a blank space where the door used to be.
Going back into my journals from those early days brings that doorway back to me, in a sense. In a real, visceral, amazing sense. I may have spun away from it on some levels, but the doorway remains. I lived it. And I wrote it. And in doing so, I left the trail wide open for myself to return. To pick up those entryways, to find my way inside again. It is all right there, on the page, in my heart. It only takes the words to spark my mind, and I am right back there again.
So here is this, my dear ones reading here today: wherever you are in your grief, whatever path you’re currently on: write. Write to leave your future self some messages. Write to give your future self a portal back to here. Write to give yourself an anchor to your heart.
Life will shift and change. Life will shift away from these early days, and all their intensity. Not because you failed to keep them close, but because they are days, and days will pass. And even when you enter the minutiae flow of life, and have no time to drop inside your heart, still: you will not have failed.
The doorway remains.
We live it. We live it again on the page. We live it again as the words lead us back. We write to leave ourselves a map.
Write. Leave yourself a map.
Write with a tribe of people who understand deep loss. Writing together doesn’t change the reality, but it does make it… better. Please join us in the upcoming session of the Writing Your Grief e-course. We’ve saved a place for you.