… on the shifting sands of grief (and hollywood set design)


Bird on a Wire

Yesterday, I was contemporary-chatting to a friend (which is called ‘messaging’).

We were talking a bit about death and dying and grief, and she shared her analogy and – as she is very outdoors-y – her version had to do with being outside and it was beautiful.

She said that, to her, grief felt as if the tide comes in and washes much away, and – when it recedes – the sand is all smooth again (as if nothing has happened) but everything is different. (She is a beautiful writer and very authentic human, and I’ll put her blog details at the end of this post).

I agreed, and my brain created the dreamy images of waves climbing up a smooth, sand beach as the tide comes in… and then slowly stepping back and leaving the sand, all rearranged but looking the same as it does day after day, year after year.

And I wanted to be outdoors-y like that, my friend does that to me.  She makes me feel like I want to be out, in the open air, and in a canoe and taking pictures and knowing the genus and species of the plants and the animals I see along the way, and then sleeping in a tent or under the stars at night.

But then I remember I have tipped over nearly every canoe I’ve ever been in, and that – every time someone gets excited about me joining them to sleep in a tent – I end up thinking of being waterboarded (or at least the bamboo shoot under the fingernail thing). And also there is the fear of sleeping under the stars thing.

Because Bigfoot.

So I was trying to think of what my own, personal, grief analogy is and I didn’t have to think very much about it because I keep coming downstairs in the morning and living it, while standing in my kitchen.

My hair is all messy and I’m wearing my sweats and, if I’m lucky, I have a cup of coffee in my hand because JoHn brought it to me and left it on my night stand, so I can take my first sip after brushing my teeth (which really just washes away all the minty-clean brushing work I just did).

But every morning, these past two weeks, I find myself standing in my kitchen and looking around, bewildered.

Lately, the sun has been showing off in the mornings, shining on the leaves that still look brand new after such an incredibly hard winter, and lighting the world.  I can see all of this happening outside my kitchen windows.

I can also see birds flitting about, including the bright red cardinal that has taken up residence since Grampa died two weeks ago.

And the house looks good inside. It’s pretty clean (which means the dog hairs are nestled in all the nooks and crannies they hang out in, but not busting out in clumps all over the place every time I walk by).


But there is this feeling that, at some point, and probably very late at night, a very quiet Hollywood set design crew came into my house and moved every single thing out of my house, replacing it all with exact replicas.

Including the dog hair.

They replaced appliances, chairs, tables, counter-tops, rugs, knickknacks…

Coffee cups in cabinets, wine glasses, fireplace screens, flooring, ceilings, light fixtures, molding, trim…

Gawd, they even nailed Gabe’s half-empty, half-crushed Poland Spring water bottles and candy wrappers beside his game controller… and put my phone in the exact same place on the table, where I forgot it last night before I went to bed.

Everything is in the exact same place.

The house is exactly the same.

Except it isn’t mine.

The house.

The yard.

The cars in the garage…

My life.

My life is not the same.

And yet it looks exactly the same.

Cars drive by, I stand in line with people at the grocery store.

The graduation ceremony took place at the high school last night.

Gabe has a soccer game.

And all around, people are living their lives and worrying their worries and celebrating their celebrate-worthy happenings.


My world is different.

It will never be the same as it was when he was here.

But then again…

It is never the same as it was when anyone who was here, is gone.

And I didn’t even have to google the fact that, not once, when anyone has moved on to whatever existence welcomes us once we are gone from this beautiful blue and green and golden marble of a planet… not once… did it ever stop spinning.

Life goes on.

A new life.

A different life.

Not all bad, or all good.

But full of wonder.

And other humans, traveling the same road.


Thanks for readin’.

*My friend, the amazing writer who shared her analogy of the tides and sand? Her name is Jennifer Bowman. Her blog is The Trailhead:))

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