"Grief, when it comes, is nothing like we expect it to be. … Grief has no distance. Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden apprehensions that weaken the knees and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life. Virtually everyone who has ever experienced grief mentions this phenomenon of “waves.”...Nor can we know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself." - Joan Didion
You left us just over two weeks ago. And for two weeks, I haven't really known what to say.
See, sometimes I feel like I know grief too well, while also recognizing it's something I don't understand at all. I know that grief makes us assholes. We treat one another poorly, we yell, we cry, we get angry. People say that they are "sorry for your loss", but I think what we really want to hear is "damn that shit is fucked up" -- because let's be real, no matter how hard we try, we can never know the depth of another's loss. Losses are not equal. And they somehow are not greater than or less than either. Our pain is our own. Our love is our own. Our fear is our own.
We feel betrayed because life continues to move on. (Even as I'm writing this I chuckle because you will be between a post about roller derby and the vegan tarts I made last weekend.) We have to go work, pay bills, make dinner -- the everyday things that suddenly feel like monumental tasks. I dread the time I will come across a text message or an email with your name attached, how my breath will catch and my chest will tighten. For truly, it is not grieving the past, or even the loss of the person that is the worst part, it's grieving the future that is no longer there. The moments down the road when we will all collectively look at one another and say, "Laura should be here right now." I don't know where grief will take me, our friends, or your family over the next few months, or over the next many years, so it seems fitting to end with what I do know.
What I know is that from the first day I met you, I knew I would love working with you. I know you brought light into every room, approached your work with care and dignity, and always brought laughter into the moment. I know you were, and will continue to be an inspiration to your students. I know you never let anything get in your way. I know you got dealt a shitty hand when it came to your health, and you always approached it with grace, spunk, and a No-really-sodium-fee-soy-sauce-is-great-and-I'll-drink-it-with-my-thimble-sized-glass-of-whisky attitude. I know that your memory will make me strive to be a better professional and shout a bit more love into the universe.
And I know that when I end this with both tender and questionably inappropriate Morgan Freeman quotes, you'll be laughing from wherever you are watching us today. (Which is clearly on a unicorn, riding down a rainbow, with a FULL sized glass of whisky.)
"I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone. I guess I just miss my friend." - Morgan Freeman as Red in Shawshank Redemption