Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday, I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another. To follow, please leave your email address.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Great Dead Calm


Journal entry 22

These journal entries are short excerpts from my unpublished grief memoir.

Four months after Ev’s death, life stops moving.

Everyone speaks words of cardboard. The same song plays over and over, wearing out whatever emotions used to exist in its notes. The world’s happy sounds are flat tones masked by white noise. I am Buster Keaton’s blank face because I feel nothing. I drift on the dead calm sea that old-time sailors feared when no wind filled their sails and they moved to the ocean’s whims. Sitting in the middle of still water, staring at each other out of sight of land, they prayed for a breeze to rock their ship, even move them in the wrong direction for a time where they might catch a favorable wind. The longer they were stranded, the more they turned inward, picked fights with each other, and shot at smiling birds to keep from going mad.

The great storms of emotion that tossed me about have ended but they’ve stranded me in this calm, benign place. Arriving here was a relief at first, worn out by the daily battles with grief. Now I worry that when my survivor’s task of disposing of Evelyn’s possessions is done, there will be nothing left and I’ll disconnect from life and friends, sit in a corner feeling no sorrow or hope. Bang my head against the wall. Chew off my lips.

Life flattens into the ocean’s silver mirror of water. No whales or dolphins disturb the calm surface. No flying fish. Just the sound of water dripping off my oars as I try to row to a different place. Every night I go to bed only because I no longer care to be awake. Every night I go to sleep hoping to rise and feel the breeze stir. But in the morning, the bed is only a place to leave to get something done. There’s no warmth or pleasure there, and I no longer look for where Evelyn’s been.

I no longer care whether I live or die. There are no goals except to get through the insipidness of this day.  Muggers could beat me up when I’m walking home from work at midnight from BART through an iffy neighborhood and I would be indifferent. At least the physical bruises would match the internal, emotional ones. It becomes clear why teenagers cut themselves with razor blades. When life has no meaning, when everything seems out of your control, physical pain is the only thing you can control.


Yet days are not completely void of feelings. Moments of humor have returned. I smile briefly and tease people a bit, before falling back into my stupor. Mostly I get frustrated, because so much of what we get worked up about each day has little to do with what’s important. 

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