Like the opening act hired to warm up an audience that turns out to be funnier or more talented than the show’s headliner, grief upstages everything which comes after.
When my beloved colleague and lifelong friend, Louie, died of covid back in December, I sank into the deepest despair my increasingly unimportant life had yet to endure. His departure cut me in half, goring my creative core, leaving only amputated limbs to sweep the kitchen floor with a broom, wash the dishes with a handled sponge brush, cook an evening skillet of vegetable pasta with oil, and separate the sweaty laundry into loads to hang or fold when dried.
I was dried. There was no me left in me.
The cello slept, untouched, until private lessons demanded it awake. Even the piano loomed nearly dormant, desire to record and upload to the Tube channel after requisite virtual church services just a memory of a life since ground to powder.
Essentially excess fat, the burden of physical weight which had begun to melt a year before continued its steady disappearing act until I was smaller than I’d remembered being since college. Spandex jeans would slide down if I walked, requiring a belt and, forget the pajamas, which literally fell off to my feet.
Yes. Covid grief is its own killer.
It carries corollaries.
We can’t just miss the person, and honor their departure; we have to feel somehow singularly responsible. Our minds are a revolving door of “what ifs” and “why didn’t I?”
Therein the essence of my past four months.
I’d devoted the previous five years to one other solitary individual, the man I’d called my partner, my love. Even made his Pfizer appointment, an act I would rue. At last check, he was still breathing; albeit, as by fire, he’d survived the medical community’s gravest and rarest of afflictions, acute saddle pulmonary embolism. Look that up; this arterial condition is, among all of life’s most threatening, prophetically silent.
He’d surfaced, after ghosting me since I’d aborted Christmas dinner, texting from the ICU. Immediately, from my protective distance, I tried to be there as he awaited the catheter procedure which would successfully remove the obstructive clot, and remained ever vigilant in the days and weeks thereafter as he commenced his regimen of blood thinners and several follow up medical tests.
But, somewhere between my ongoing grief and this trauma bonding, something turned.
Ultimately, though the near death fright had given way to philosophical reflection, he would finally reveal himself. As suspected, this relationship I’d been nurturing, both in person and in my head, was largely a figment of my own hopeful expectation; he didn’t really want me, although he was happy to need me, and my being displaced without warning was always on his radar. I’d just never bothered to check the weather forecast.
Having yearned to pour myself back into caring for and about the one who had survived, grief had other plans for me; instead, I would know the desolation of discard. What a wake.
She calls him “babe”, that proclamation of assumed ownership, usually the moniker for having crossed into the realm of intimate bliss. My imagination is now hijacked by scenarios that disavow five, often agonizing years of God-seen devotion.
Pulling the curtain, grief just gloats.
© 4/13/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo . All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in part or whole including translation, permitted without direct sharing by littlebarefeetblog.com link exclusively. Please honor original material. Don’t be a thief. Thanks.