Grief Became The Accessory That I Carried Everywhere With Me

I've been a second hand witness to grief most of my life. I've dried tears rolling down cheeks, I've placed flowers at gravestones and I've even been a stoic shoulder to cry on. Up until this year; when I was inducted into the morbid fold of the grief-stricken. It wasn't watching from the front row anymore, it was stepping inside the ring. Initially, all I felt was numbness. While the rest of the world seemed to be weeping around me, I was powering through my routine on auto-pilot. I initially felt relieved that maybe; just maybe, I was one of those people who could process loss healthily. That didn't last very long though. It was beginning to feel like I was made of two different people. There was the one who woke up with hope in her heart and positivity to take on the day. And then there was her; the other half who felt almost handicapped with anxiety that this was my reality and life somehow had to go on. Unfortunately, the latter reared her head by afternoon and refused to leave until the wee hours of the night. Suddenly the automated routine I had gotten accustomed to was coming undone. Bottom of the barrel, meet me.

Grief has a way of consuming you. Trip into it and you'll find yourself on a riverbed, trying your hardest to push through to the surface for a gulp of air. But look down and there are weights around your feet. It pulls you in and doesn't let go, even when your mind and body are begging for something, anything to feel better. After months of mentally staying afloat but barely; when I thought I couldn't fight the all-consuming feeling for a second longer, it's almost as if time stopped and suddenly, the pain in my chest didn't feel so debilitating any more.

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You don't ever stop missing the departed, you simply begin to heal enough to not miss them as much. As days pass, the void in your chest begins to feel less empty.  Even months down the line though, I don't believe it ever fills entirely. You may move past loss, but you can never really forget it. I'd be in the middle of a work dinner and a glimpse at my white shirt is a momentary reminder of how perfectly you used to launder yours. When I'm spring cleaning, the sight of the brass door knocker reminds me of when you polished yours until it gleamed. Your presence personified even the most mundane of objects, from blue cheese tins to white vests to black rubber boots. The memories of summer coconut harvests, walks in the backyard and cycle rides are so fresh in my mind, you'd think they happened yesterday. It's comforting to relive but then there's that familiar sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I realise I can't get any of those days back again, even just one more time. 

I think about how a place that felt like home must look entirely different now. I have to rely on my memory for this part because I can’t imagine striding through the sun-streaked colourful tiled hall ever since you last left in a casket. I often think about how your vegetable patch must wonder where their gardener disappeared to or how the branches will droop with the mango harvest come summer. It made me realise how little meaning places have without people attached to them. Without your vigour and zeal, now it’s just empty rooms, dusty shelves and barren gardens. It has made my belief even firmer that the present is all we have because the future is promised to no one. I may not have known it at the time but all those summer vacations, Christmas parties, Saturday evenings and sunset drives down the hills were actually forming core memories that I’ll now be able to cherish forever. I’m fortunate really, because not many else can boast of that. Rosewood sofas, cuckoo clocks and cushioned arm chairs may be imprinted with decades of your presence but when my heart is full and mind is at peace with the time we shared together, nothing in the world can replace that.

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