Jilly D.

The skies cry

In Anniversary and memorials, Grief on September 13, 2013 at 8:59 pm

111111-R1-14-15_015Cold wet rainy. A lot like September 2009.

The skies cry. Winds howl.

Two days passed and grief snuck up Buffalo Hill through the Shindagin Hollow Forest. Like the mushrooms and vibrant fungi I see on my walks in the woods, grief manifests itself only under certain circumstances, but the spores stay right under the surface of the soil. When the days are sunny and dry it looks like they’ve disappeared from the woods, but they are simply dormant. When it’s the rainy season, fungi pop up between dark and dawn. When it’s mourning time, sacrificial offerings spring from the heart.

Looking up from my desk, I see outside lush green leaves of the maples and elms standing in the yard against the forest’s edge. The air is still and the drizzling has stopped. A branch on the sweet maple tree waves.  I watch the tree greet me. I take it in as if it were as customary as my dogs wagging their tails while lying still next to my feet. A calm and fleeting moment. I breathe and see wet green.

No breeze. I look out the windows on the east wall and notice no wind at all. When I look back at the maple, it’s still waving at me. I stand up and walk outside to greet the spirit of tree.

Greenway thru maplesThe dogs accompany me toward the backyard and take off down the lane into the woods without stopping or noticing the waving arm. As I approach the maple, I raise my hand to see if I detect a breeze or feel the wind. Tree waves back. By what magic?

The trunk felt solid. The girth of it did not vibrate or offer any explanation for its leaf fingers waving at me.  I looked up and put my hand under the moving branch to see if I could detect an updraft. Nothing. Houdini had me playing his nimble assistant in performing a magic show. Except there was no stage, but the one on which I walk in my interior life with Sam’s ghost.

Shindagin Hollow Forest

Shindagin Hollow Forest

Over my head flew a crow and it called to me. I followed the bird in flight with my lips, pursed into a frown. When I turned to follow the dogs into the darkness of the tall pines, every leaf on the maple tree stood still. And I shook.

Don’t leave me. I can’t say good-bye. I love you always. Come back, Sam. Come back to me.

It’s Friday the 13th and Sunday marks four years since Sam decided to take his own life. Tuesday, September 15, 2009. There isn’t a Tuesday that goes by that I don’t dread the dinner hour. The middle of every month my belly button bleeds.  When I hear a gun blast, every muscle in my body tenses. Sirens send a chill up my spine.  My mind can control most of the physiological responses before the panting begins and tears obscure my vision. I’ve learned to pull back from a full blown meltdown; at least in public. But my heart and body still know my sorrow.

Indian Pipe under rotting Elm tree trunk

Indian Pipe under rotting Elm tree trunk

It’s been so long that no one mentions Sam anymore. As though our life together is separate from my life alone. I know people don’t raise the subject because they assume it will bring up painful memories. For me or for them, I wonder. I live with all of these memories day and night, awake and asleep. I can’t forget. I can’t forget the night he died. I can’t forget the good times that came before. And I can’t forget the joy I felt being loved by Sam Warren.

Tree waves hello. Or goodbye? The crow returns.  Tears drip from the rumbling heavens. Memories reverberate in the thunder of another storm. Toadstools and moss will carpet tomorrow’s forest floor.

  1. So exquisitely, poignantly beautiful, Jill. I’m glad to talk to you about Sam anytime–on email, in person, any way at all–but I know this distancing happens. Other than our sons or Vic’s mother, people rarely mention Vic, but he is in my thoughts constantly, my dreams frequently, and I still refer to him often in conversation. “Vic would have liked this” or “Vic would have said this to me.” Four years. A long time and only a moment. Tomorrow is the anniversary of a day that shook you down and changed everything. I will remember with you.

    • Thanks for your compassion Elaine. You’ve helped me see grief as a great teacher and by sharing your story have helped me learn to fully mourn and heal.

  2. Jill,
    I love your writing. On FB I said I didn’t know your story…well I have followed this site, but I think I was in such a place in my mind that I sat it aside. Dots are connecting now…Jill Swenson of writing biz, Jillybooks of grief and mourning and, of course, my newish online friend, Elaine. I hope I don’t lose you again…
    The day we lost our mates is only about a month apart, so I feel some connection there too. I’m sending you warm wishes and hugs and these words about my own grief, from a recent blog post of mine.
    “Grieving is an interesting journey. At times, I can hold grief in my arms and rock until it drifts off. Sometimes grief walks beside me like a shadow. Sometimes I have to carry its heavy weight on my back everywhere I go. Other times it slams me to the mat like a wrestler does his opponent.
    Grief has this thing about mixing things up too. I cry over anything/everything, yet I get immense joy at the smallest things. I’m exhausted, yet I can’t sleep., or I sleep for 12 hours. I want to be close to my peeps, yet I have to have my solitude; I pull you close, then push you away. I can’t think straight, misplace everything, forget everything, yet I can upload photos and (hopefully) lead a writing group. I crave food, yet I’m too unmotivated to make or eat it, and when I do, it doesn’t taste right anyway. I have a very difficult time making any decision and am allergic to commitment. I mean even tiny ones; “Mom, you want to come out to the docks while I fish?” “I’m not sure, I’ll let you know when we get there.” If I can force myself to get out of my truck, I go, if not, I sit and read or head back home. You just never know with me. And I never know with me. That’s grief for ya.”
    I must say that I am also dealing with the unexpected loss of a sister and the tragic loss of my 3 year-old grandson, since Paul’s death. Guilt has almost overtaken grief, and is trying to undo me. I fight on.
    I look forward to reading more of your writing…

    • Thanks Patti for sharing your writing. An apt description of the waves of confusion that accompany grief. My loss felt so enormous I couldn’t imagine how you could absorb the shock and trauma of losing two more loved ones so soon afterwards. Grief is a constant companion and some days a back seat driver. Thanks for connecting. We’ll stay in touch.

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