Frosted Flakes of Grief, Discovered Joy.
Posted on 29th January 2021 at 16:28
Saturday night arrives and I am tucked warm in bed staring excited at my phone - how funny that a snowflake accompanied by 80% will keep me awake all night.
It is promised to arrive at 5am, my phone is the brightly coloured wagon that I would see at fairs, inside / the weather app - like mystic Meg and her crystal ball and - have predicted that tomorrow will bring me joy.
I sleep restlessly, my dreams see me whiz through time, unlike mystic Meg, I readily seek out the past. My youngest sons smile frozen as his first pair of welly boots are used to decorate the snowman in our front garden, my eldest laugh as he speeds down a hill on his sledge.... back even further / my frozen tears as I am forced to play snowballs with a man that will - like the rain tomorrow ... steal my joy.
Tomorrow comes, predictably – unlike the snow. Which stays tucked away in grey clouds that circle East Sussex. My stomach is a whirlpool that reminds me on the one minute that I am a grown-up and mustn’t be so silly, and the next minute that this is possibly the saddest day so far in 12 months of cliff edge living.
At 10am, a curtain of sludgy white flakes descends on the floor and is replaced almost instantly with rain. At 11am the same thing happens, a child from the house opposite runs outside, arms spread out wide – a peel of joy, and I dive into my body to seek out that same feeling in me...... and for a brief moment I smell excitement. And then it rains…
Wrapped up in my husband’s arms at the point when I finally admit that I need a hug, I sob out the words........ I’m so full of grief.
And that’s what falls from my eyes and descends onto his shoulders; white Frosted Flakes of grief, rippling out of a sky that has been an ever ending weather report called “paused and waiting”.
I am waiting for the time I can embrace joy and as much, I am waiting for the time to grieve... grieve the hugs I have missed, the people who have died, my sons school experience, the women’s groups I have been unable to run.
What feels most pressing however, most at the top of my internal snow storm, is exactly the same thing I had hoped would arrive with the snow.
If it had snowed, I could have mirrored back that little girl’s joy. Other adults would have ventured out into the cold air and perhaps slid down the road with smiles on their faces. Joy would have become a viral infection that would have permeated the breath of my village, and we would have laughed as a tribe.
Similarly, with a constant impatient waiting – I grieve the opportunity to cry with my tribe. I think back to the Masai women wailing for the loss of a calf, something that seems so trivial perhaps in our western throw-away society, yet now I am crying over the loss of snow..... and I am crying because I cannot be with others in my wail.
We have developed a civilized culture around grief – it is performed in the quietness of our own home, or at the funeral of someone we were vaguely connected to (because so loathed are we to shed a tear at our own family members journeys end). There is something about shared crying which is left behind in the playground when one child “sets the other one off”. Yet, there has to be a reason for this innate skill to distribute the essence of our feelings like dandelion heads caught in the breeze. We call laughter infectious, a yawn is often repeated in the other – and I ask you to hear that grief also should not – at least not to begin with – be a private affair.
I have had enough of this paused waiting – enough of this endless suspended moment of feeling. I will go outside and build my grief snowman and maybe I will meet you building yours – and maybe, just maybe – in that moment of shared grief – we will find our joy.
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