Grief is one tough mother.
I remember coming home from the hospital, placing the brochures down, walking like a zombie into your room. That perfect little dress still hanging on your closet door, just begging to be worn. I sat down next to it, ran my fingers through the velvet, the red ruffles. After a minute your father appeared in the doorway, shook his head. "Come on," he motioned towards the hallway. "Not yet."
You see, the thing about grief is that you can't run from it. It's always there. On the days you're okay, when you're laughing. It is there during parent conferences and happy hours, as you dance on mountaintops and give good morning kisses. It's present on suede couches at midnight, leaves its bitter aftertaste on every single chocolate croissant.
In the beginning you think you can escape it. And of course, one can try.
You run from it, this ugly, scary thing and you lie to yourself repeatedly. I am stronger, smarter, faster. You fight it with everything in you. Every breath takes an effort all consuming, exhausts you as you attempt to relate to every atom in your corner, all the things that made sense before.
But it's there, alongside you all the time. Silently, patiently she waits. Never accelerating, taking residence in the shadows of things that once brought you comfort. Stalking all your smiles and calmly tapping on your shoulder, until you are forced to acknowledge her presence; that she has been there all along.
If one is not careful she will sting, catch you off guard as you give silly faces to the toddlers in the next row. Don't forget you're sad, you hear? Don't forget that this happened. If you run, she is always scary, the biggest monster under the loneliest of beds. She is the unknown, and there is nothing more terrifying than that.
But if you can accept her, allow her entrance into the morning jogs and the midnight snack-ings, you might find something surprising. I think that is the hardest part. This metamorphosis. The stopping, this catching of breath. If I'm not running from it, where exactly does one run?
It is getting harder to spot her now. There are times, these momentary lapses where I start to slow down, and I worry that she's catching up to me. Frantically I seek her, blindly following an odor far less pungent, a face that has become all too familiar, to beat her to the punch.
I search her in the darkness. On my knees, under beds she lived before. Find she's sleeping next to me.
There's no need to run anymore.