Must I remember?

Heaven and earth! Must I remember?

Hamlet. Act I, scene 2.

I recognize grief in my life. More often than some, I assume, being as well-acquainted with it as I am. I try to take time to grieve hurt and disappointment as it presents itself. Sometimes I refuse to see it, most often I do not. I want to live in reality, however uncomfortable it may be. But heaven and earth, must I remember?

Grieving something, as much as this may sound like therapy-talk, is so important. I grieve a life I did not have, but not in the way you may think, given my age and the excess to which I live my life. I grieve the birthdays that did not come. The little altars we instinctively set up for our children. I grieve the life I could have had. The joy that would have ensued.

But.

I have faced the new, ever-present fear of loss and been rewarded. Grieving stops the blood flow, enough to allow for survival. Admitting that what could have been is an abstraction, that it is not your reality, frees you to experience life after in a way that is almost livable. Life becomes something altogether different, something more real than you could have imagined.

It isn’t easy. Reality never is. But it is worth the pressure and the pain to come through to the other side and realize that, however insulting it may be, life does go on and you are in it. You could escape, but then what kind of a coward would you be? You’d miss all this. You’d miss new loves and joys and heartaches and truths. You would be missed, your life having become a hole in someone else’s.

You’d become their grief, which, given your experience, seems like a terribly shitty thing to do.

Things never manifest as we have planned, but planning is a joke in itself. Life will take us where it wants to take us. There’s really nothing you can do about it.

Heaven and earth! Must I remember?

We must, or it’s all for naught.

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