Two years after GR’s death, I find myself at a crossroads in my grieving process for him.
There is a passage from Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking that echoes often in my mind lately.
She writes,“I know why we try to keep the dead alive: we try to keep them alive in order to keep them with us. I also know that if we are to live ourselves there comes a point at which we must relinquish the dead, let them go, keep them dead.”
Keep them dead. Those words play over and over in my mind like a broken record.
After 31 years of being intimate with grief I think I have finally figured something out. I have figured out the main reason why it’s so motherfucking hard and exhausting. Grief constantly picks you up, takes you out of your present moments and places you in the past. Over and over and over. Every single day. No matter where you are or what you’ve got going on. Which is counter to everything I’ve studied and learned about the ability to be happy.
The Dalai Lama knows it. Paramahamsa Yogananda knew it. Pema knows it. Ram Dass knows it. Sharon Salzberg knows it. Many wise people know it. The key to finding inner peace and happiness can only be found in one place: the here and now.
It’s YOU vs. YOUR GRIEF in your quest to be in the present. After fighting this losing battle for long enough you realize that something has to change: you or the battle you’re fighting. Or–maybe more realistically–a little bit of both.
I have mourned GR wholeheartedly for the last two years. As he requested before he died, I have scattered his ashes in four different locations across the country. I have wished and wished that he were still alive. I have dreamed about him on numerous occasions, for which I am grateful. I have felt a longing to be with him again that is deep and agonizing. I have not only mourned him, I have also mourned the woman I was with him. I have mourned a future that I thought would include him. I have mourned my hopes and dreams of having a family with him. When GR died, parts of me died along with him. That is how this shit goes. You mourn one big death and many other little deaths along with it.
It’s EXTRA, trust me.
But it couldn’t be any other way.
I have shed more layers of skin than I ever thought possible. And with every new layer shed, I have unknowingly gotten closer and closer to an acceptance of what is done. Fini. No más. Of what is no longer and will never be again. No magical thinking is ever going to make GR undead.
Acceptance is a small quiet room, writes Cheryl Strayed.
Don’t get me wrong. By no means am I suggesting that I have it all figured out, nor would I ever pretend to. Au contraire. We all figure this shit out as we go. There’s no roadmap. We all do the best we can.
What I do know though is that I can’t stay where I’ve been for the last two years. I cannot simultaneously be both here and there. I will love GR until the day I die and look back fondly on all our happy memories and experiences together. I grew to be a better human being from being with him. I learned how beautiful and deep true love can be–with him and because of him. There is nothing more important than loving and being loved. That, I know with certainty.
I regret nothing; I am grateful for everything. Things take the time they take.
But now I feel in my heart that it’s time for a goodbye, a different kind of goodbye. A goodbye that, for the first time in my whole fucking life, doesn’t feel like it’s dripping in sorrow and angst and heartache. A goodbye that I could only be ready for today because of every day that has preceded it.
A goodbye that is also a hello.
My heart tells me it’s time.