You know it’s bad when your best friend tells you that you sound like you’ve been hit by a 4’x4’. Not any ordinary 2’x4’, no, the big guns. When the person who might love you the most can hear it over the phone, the exhaustion and rawness. I guess I finally hit the proverbial wall. And so, I’ve been doing my best self-remedies; I’ve been swallowing beauty today—as much of it as I can put in my mouth and my eyes, and my ears.
I’ve been listening to the Morning Benders, Bon Iver, Wilco , Madeleine Peyroux. I watch on Youtube so I can see the faces, feel the colors. I listen to my friend Rita’s radio segment from NPR and watch the documentary about the guy who loved bears and was then killed by them. I watch and listen to things that on an ordinary day might just make me smile but on a day like today, make me weep. I cried in the end of Grizzly Man when Werner Herzog, the director, says that Timothy’s work and even death was more a reflection of the human experience then it was of the natural experience which Timothy was so insistent on portraying. He looked at this man who most people would have written off as little more than a novelty and made us see what he saw, a filmmaker and a human being not afraid to live his life. A human being who was flawed in his vision.
This metaphor of our perspective just being a reflection of our own seeing and not actual reality is powerfully true. At some point, it doesn’t matter does it? How we perceive and understand the world becomes the truth of it for us. Herzog, as the narrator and Timothy as the narrator/subject both stumble upon this with wit, tenderness and guilelessness. Above all the film is honest. Herzog lets the man who he is looking at, be total unto himself and yet remains true to his own view of the circumstances. For myself, after weeks of grinding an administrative blade to useless sharpness, I revel in the honesty of unmitigated human experience and reflection.
In the afternoon, I read poetry out loud and record it to send to a friend in California. I want to be there but I send my voice instead. I write desperately, so fast my fingers can’t keep up with my mind. I sip a little brandy and deal with tear-ready eyes.
This crying is important. I haven’t wept in months. Which is strange for me because my life feels pretty challenging these days. I used to cry everyday, when my mom died, when my lover left, when I was heartbroken or terrified about my future, or worried over my health in my early twenties. But now, faced with some of the trickiest, most intricate parts of my understanding about life I remain stoic? Maybe it is just New England wearing off on me. Maybe I have cried enough for a lifetime and just needed a break. It isn’t that I haven’t been struggling. But, for a change, instead of just struggle, I have been asking questions. Sometimes questions are harder. They go something like, is my current life truly making me unhappy, or is the suffering I feel, really all my own doing? These seem like relevant questions, adult ones, where I have begun to see my own hand in my experience and to examine the ways I might want to take better responsibility for that experience.
And part of it is that when I get too tired I am faced again with another facet of my own grieving process. I don’t always let myself feel it. I can’t after all, function very well crying everyday. More so, grief suspends my thinking and makes the world into this mosaic of time and space being movable and sensory. It changes my mind about everything. I don’t think my brain has ever gotten back to the place it was before my mom died. My mind became a new landscape, yes, perhaps even a beginner’s landscape. And also, I was grieving a meaningful relationship when my mom died, so the griefs are tied up together in one strange swirl.
Sometimes, when I hear an old lovesong of ours or when I dream of his beautiful, angular face and he is looking at me with so much sorrow in his eyes and telling me he is afraid I don’t remember him, I know that I am really missing her. It is easier to look into the face of Jesus than into the face of God. We look where we can. We find solace where we can. We are human after all.
Truly, grief pops up everywhere. My friend from school lost her dad this week. There are no words for this and so I don’t even try. I know that much. On the phone, another loved one and I talk about his wife who died this year. We talk about the brokenness and what it might take to come back from it. But we both know there is no coming back from it. We talk about the years that have passed and how much we still love each other after all this loss. I read poems out loud on my couch and I weep for them, for myself. I listen to Rita’s story and I weep for the young man whose story she is telling and how he got to touch the hand of god when he almost lost his life in a car accident.
I weep for my own shattered heart that wants so much to love again, without fear this time. But today, I can barely be other than my own ridiculous self, on the couch, crying. My mom used to say that crying is how we integrate things. It is how we come to terms.
There are so many things I cannot ever come to terms with, but I will start with this unexpected weeping. I will start with crying in the bathtub in this big, quiet house. I will start with letting myself dissolve into water and into my life. Tomorrow, I will be strong and put it all back together. Not today. This day deserves my tears. It is a perfect time for tears.