What body part stores my grief?
I dunno, maybe it’s my feet. By best friend Bernice has a theory about injuries and maladies. That they illustrate a spiritual need that’s not being met. So, I keep breaking/wounding my feet and ankles these last few months. Go ahead, find the parallel, the symbolism of foot problems while Sheltering In Place. I’ll wait.
But grief, well I am not sure it is stored there. In 2008, in the weeks leading up to my mother’s demise, I started moonstrating. We should all use moon in place of “men”, it’s a better word, because men have nothing to do with our lunar cycles. Am I right? Can I get an A Moon? And that was weird because I had already gone through the “Change of Life” (consider those words duly intoned) aka Moonopause. So as the woman who gave birth to me fifty years ago died, my womb cried. Mom was in terrible pain, so death came as mercy, but still, it’s hard, you know? I don’t grieve I seethe. I can feel a deep wounding, I can experience immense grief, and it all serves to ignite a barn burning rage.
Back to where grief is stored according to the Bernice Theory of Injury Location. ‘when I fell down thirty two stairs shattering five ribs, which punctured a lung, the Wisconsin hospital stapled my scalp, installed a morphine pump, and set me up with a famous surgeon who stapled me back together with titanium clips, I am all What The Fuck was THAT for? We came up with, I kid you not, that I needed to be more OPEN, that it forced a crack in my armor.
I cry easily but grief? That’s private. After the accident in 2013, as I clawed my way back to mobility, I found the strength to breathe. Without morphine, I don’t think I could have inhaled. Jeff likes to say that I have completely recovered, but that is not true. If I did not suffer fools gladly before, I suffer them now not at all, having been reminded in a very serious way of my own mortality. It grinds, like the gnashing of teeth and I totter between happy talk and no talk because nobody likes a whiner and nobody wants a needy friend.
I want to write about quarantine, about coronavirus, about how it is affecting me, but Grandma and Grandpappy Tripp frown in memory on my selfishness, and I focus on others, how are THEY doing? The unemployed? The hungry? The elderly? So I write of their despair like it was my own. I subscribe to ta podcast called Death Sex and Money – so titled because the interviewer gently draws out of her guests answers to those questions and feelings that despite of life’s most banal moments, hinge on three subjects that remain forbidden, unspoken, and Gaia damnit, they shouldn’t be. I agree with Annie who suggests bringing back mourning arm bands – a visual clue that your friend or loved one was recently bereaved and why does it have to recent? I should think that a beloved spouse (not a barely tolerated spouse that you were planning to divorce anyway) but you know – that life partner type, the one about whom you have no regrets, that tears a piece off. I have friends who when they were widowed took years to pull up from the abyss and wave back. And why is it that the parents or step parents you love the most are the first to go? My friend Greg, whose parents died when he was only ten years old, he says that at fifty years old you don’t get to call yourself an orphan. He was/is an orphan. He’s right about that. It’s almost expected, only it really isn’t. Mom was 75 years old when she died on April 14th, 2008. She would have appreciated the irony of dying the day before tax returns were due. All that time afterwards my stepfather had gone even more bat shit crazy, in an ugly and paranoid way, driving away his friends and family until there was no one left to blame for his misery.
Dad was 87 years old. Roland was 74. Two from cancer, one really, from old age – ostensibly an infection of unknown origin, but Dad’s body was plumb wore out at 87, the benefits of 1984’s quadruple bypass surgery having expired. His heart had run its course, and I do believe that the 2016 election and the racist xenophobic misogynistic rhetoric uttered and promoted during that year broke his heart. He said “this is not the country I fought for in the Navy” and hated Donald Trump and everything he stood for, so it was despair and worn out body parts that got him in the end.