sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

November 21, 2022

the surprise of grief
posted by soe 1:39 am

A small wave of grief hit me yesterday. It was enough to knock the breath out of me, but not so big as to yank my feet out from under me. But it caught me off guard.

It was a silly thing that did it: a cardinal ornament at the downtown holiday market, where I stopped last night after getting my flu shot. And I thought, I should buy that for Gramma. And there it was: smash!

It’s been more than seven years since my grandmother died. I don’t grieve her on a daily basis the way I did that first year, when I was surprised to discover that you could cry in your sleep, because I woke myself up sobbing one night. Most days, she lives in my memory, content to dispense no-nonsense rejoinders when I kick something while barefoot or roll out a recipe for me when I need a go-to dish and maybe less content that I still play the “even my dead grandmother” game when faced with an onerous task. She is firmly in the past tense now in my life.

Still, I shouldn’t have been wholly surprised by the reaction to the ornament. There were warning signs. I saw a friend on Friday to deliver some lemon squares, and when I told him they weren’t quite right, that they didn’t taste like Gramma used to make, I heard my voice get a little wobbly. But I caught it and we talked about the invisible ingredients that go into recipes that mean you’ll never quite replicate it and that that just has to be good enough sometimes.

I’ve been thinking about grief and the upcoming holidays recently. This will be the first big holiday for Rudi since his mom died, and I know it will be hard. My parents and I will be there, but that fact also will keep the wound raw. He’s got plans to leave us for a few days to head up to the World Cup races in Vermont, and I suspect that break will help. But it’s going to be hard regardless. We’ll all have to take a few extra breaths this year and give each other the time and space and kindness and grace to let our ghosts visit us without having them wash us out to sea.

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