I am writing to recount your recent stay.
On November 1st, 2016 you arrived at my door. You had come for brief visits on other occasions, but this time you stood with suitcase in hand. You had moved into the homes of many great souls that year: David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Harper Lee and Umberto Eco. The list went on with Keith Emerson, Frank Sinatra, Jim Harrison, Prince, Carrie Fisher… I suppose I should have felt honored that you included my home on your circuit, at least my dear Doug was in good company.
So there you were, Grief, standing expectantly at the the door. I did not want to let you in. I had too much to do in the aftermath of Doug’s death. So many details, my children to care for, a home and hearth to keep. But every time I opened the door, there you stood, waiting to come in. You blocked my way, so I had no choice but to let you in.
Since you had not been invited, I didn’t feel it necessary to entertain you. You didn’t mind, you would make yourself at home. And you did. You stood next to me while I made soup and the smell, of which Doug used to say “Ah my favorite meal!” brought me to tears. You waited for me at the piano and insisted on singing along. You meddled about while I tidied and cleared Doug’s things, realizing those spaces would never again be cluttered with his books and papers and guitar picks. When I wrote, you took my pen into your own hands. You even had the audacity to crawl into bed with me in the darkness of night. This went on not only in my home, but also beyond the walls of my nest. You followed me to the coffee shop, to work, to the grocery store. Your presence persisted until I finally said, “Grief, we need to talk.”
It turns out that all you wanted was to be acknowledged- to be recognized. You told me that you needed to be here before your sister, Hope, could show up. “Okay then,” I said, “If you are going stick around, then we have to learn to get along.” So, you and I agreed to conversation and counseling.
Gradually I allowed you to contribute to the meals, to sing with me, to write with me, and even lay with me during those dark nights. I included you, Grief, in my coffee shop conversations and occasionally took time at work to have lunch with you. I even allowed you into my most sacred space: my garden. Together we dug into the dirt: planting, weeding, pruning, moving perennials. In time, the overgrown shrubs that we pruned, the iris bulbs that we thinned, and the seeds that we watered broke open in the dark soil and burst up in abundant, brilliant blooms.
Did you know I picked a lovely bouquet and brought it into my house? I wanted to show you the fruits of our labor. But the house was silent. “Grief!” I called, “Come and see!” But you did not answer. The doorbell rang. I thought perhaps you were playing a trick on me. I opened the door but you were not there. Hope had arrived.
Maggie Thompson is a writer and educator and lives in Apple Valley, Minnesota. She is a practitioner of Reiki and meditation. She enjoys music, the company of friends, family, and her garden. She draws much inspiration for her writing from the wisdom of nature.
This story was written in Write Your Grief Story workshops, an intimate and supportive online writing group. Want to write your grief story?