Have you ever noticed that people don’t write about depression from inside of depression. I mean, a friend or a blogger just disappears for a while, and then they come back and they say, “Sorry I was gone. I was fighting depression.”
Makes sense, of course. It’s hard to write when your brain says everything you do is crap and it’s all pointless anyway.
But have you ever wondered what really goes on inside a person’s head during that time, that dark time when what’s inside doesn’t want to come outside?
When Grandma died in November (it’s getting easier to write that sentence, even though I don’t want it to), I didn’t go into a deep depression and stop writing–in fact, I wrote quite a lot from my grief. I shared quite a lot of it too… but not all of it. Some of it felt too dark and raw. It wasn’t writing so much as feeling that spilled out onto the screen.
Well, here’s some of it. A note from the inside of grief.
December 19, 2013
Yesterday while I was writing about my grandma, I closed my eyes and imagined her voice, so I could get the words down on the screen just so. I wrote them out and then listened to them in my head and suddenly, unpredictably, it hit me that someday I will forget what her voice sounded like. I’ll hear those words in my head and won’t be sure if I’m hearing them quite correctly. I won’t remember the gentle gravelly sound, I’ll think “gentle gravelly” and everything I think of will be only an approximation, it will sound like what you are imagining right now for “gentle gravelly” instead of what she actually sounded like.
I spent the rest of the evening looking for old videos I took of her talking about her childhood. I became more and more frantic as I realized I’ve done a crappy job of maintaining files and that I probably am never going to find those precious, precious videos. That I will probably never, ever hear her voice again.
I finally went to bed, thinking maybe I’d find it still on my camcorder in the morning, after the battery had a chance to charge overnight. Halfway through the night, I dreamed that Dad and Grandpa and Aunt Elea and I were sitting around Grandma in her blue chair (“Am I in mah blue chair? Oh good, I’m so glad I’m in mah blue chair,” gawd I miss her sweet voice) and that she was about to blink out of existence, just like that, to just simply be gone. None of us wanted her to go, and she didn’t want to go either. She never liked goodbyes. And then she was gone, just like that, in a split second, just gone.
And in that instant I woke up and immediately knew it was true, that she was really really gone.
Also, the video is not on the camcorder or, if it is, it’s among the dozens of corrupted files from years past that never got downloaded and are lost forever.
And so even as I’m journeying through my grief (my ridiculously overblown grief, says my critical self; no, no, be gentle with yourself, says my kinder self; it’s okay, just be, says my wiser self) there is this watcher in my brain (my writer self) who is cataloging it all for future use.
The waves of regret (why didn’t I go out more often, take the kids to see Grandma every year, listen to more of her stories, ask her more questions, WHY don’t I have any video?)
The waves of horror (we all die someday and what happens to us then? Where do we go? Is she really still there or is it over for her and, someday, for me?)
The waves of pure sorrow (oh, Jesus, I miss her. So. Much.)
I’ve read so many works where people who have suffered a loss worry about not remembering what a loved one looked like, sounded like, smelled like. When Grandpa died, I took home an old suitcase full of his plaid shirts. I planned to make a quilt out of them, but I never did. I did, however, periodically go downstairs and sniff the suitcase, immerse my face in it. It smelled like Grandpa. One day, I decided it was enough. I was ready to let go. And I dumped the shirts and filled the suitcase with other things.
Yes, I’ve now forgotten what Grandpa smelled like.
And someday I’ll forget what Grandma sounded like.
Dear gawd, I’m not ready to admit that.
P.S. Wow. That’s a downer. I still miss her so much it hurts. I haven’t forgotten her voice yet, not yet, but I have to try harder to remember it.