Grief: Dark Shadows

Every day, at least once, it comes back to this: I’m tired of this being the worst year of my life.

It’s just that all in this world seems so marred by the dark to me lately. Everything so heavy, dark and brooding, thick and bitterly saccharine like molasses. All seems to be pressed on on all sides by something very monstrous and diffuse. I can’t seem to think about anything except my patients, whose lives have trailed themselves through such tragedy. The spectre of my father’s death hangs always. I can’t escape sirens, always right outside my window, ambulances in front of me any time I step out the door representing either the weight of expectation on me as a doctor or the burden on this world of new tragedy or both. I always seem to be walking up a hill in this city and even when I’m walking down it’s not buoyant or good – characterized by nothing more than being not-uphill. And negative in its own way, a tumbling. Even when I try to look for the good in this world it feels weak and without power – brought down by the mud its feet are stuck in. And I am unsurprised by each new piece of horror brought to my attention, though still dejected. It seems there are shadows in every corner.

I miss my lake. I miss my husband. I miss soaring on runs and feeling at home. I am so, so tired.

After my first call shift, which was terrible and similarly filled with horrors and harbingers, I slept for the most restful four hours in weeks. When I woke I felt fugued, feeling briefly like I had pulled myself up through the dark clouds by a great force of will and obstinance, a gasp of fresh sunshine on my face, a muscle-up through the muck. I looked around at the bright and beautiful restaurant I had chosen for brunch by myself, where I had been a few weeks earlier with Lumberjack. It was soaked through with sunshine.

But soon the coffee and mimosa started to dig their sharp edges into my belly.

I am mincemeat. I am the raw bloody face of someone punched then pushed across the gravel. I am shaken to broken pieces in my fragile glass innards then set back down with my vessel intact.

I ordered something spiced and biting but wished for that warm melting I had had with my husband sitting across from me, weeks ago. At the restaurant’s store I browsed the cards section with tears coming to my eyes at the casual relevance of sympathy cards. I wonder if there will ever be a time that those don’t feel like they apply to me. I meticulously sniffed $12 soaps and picked the thing softer and warmer. I carefully chose five stems for a bouquet, pouring myself into the bright and tangy ones, hoping to bring forth again the joy I used to feel from being made of passion and fury. A dahlia, a dark daisy. Two peppered support stems and a single pure white tapering one to make me feel like I could bear holding onto this vision of myself – intensity – which lately feels dark and frightening and unstable.

I feel rattled like I’ve been other times I’ve been on inpatient psych but I don’t remember how I put myself back together before. Then I had Lumberjack by my side, listening with an open face as I got home every day, holding me on our couch. Then I had runs on the lake. Then I had a father.

Everything feels so different now.

I don’t know that I see the way out now. But I will try to paint myself with sunshine. I think the way out now will be a different way.