You sound sad, she said. What you’re describing sounds like a grief reaction. I’m not ruling anything out, she said. But depression usually has more of a flattened quality. You may have moments of that, but you are feeling things. She emphasized the word. Feeling. I nodded wryly. That I am.
I made some progress on work things today. I watched a Patti Digh book trailer. I read a Maezumi Roshi quote Maezen posted on Facebook: “If we can be truly patient, we never have any problems.” And her commentary: “That tells us that all problems are problems of patience.”
I have been impatient with my grief.
She’s like a child trying to get my constant attention, a child I’m too busy to tend to–busy working, busy attempting to balance the checkbook, busy taking care of real children, busy trying to make a tender new relationship work, fearful of what I might lose if I take time. Busy, in other words, not grieving.
Spend time with me, she cries, any time I have a moment alone. It might not be all bad, she tells me. We might even enjoy each other’s company. Love me. Cuddle me. Sit with me until I feel taken care of enough to go away on my own. I could introduce you to some of my friends.
She doesn’t name names, and I find myself wondering it she happens to be friends with Joy.
Really, I can’t, I tell her. I do not have enough money to just sit and not worry. I’m still trying to figure so many things out. It won’t really help, I tell her, for us to hang out. I don’t have time. It won’t change anything. I can see you on Wednesday after work for an hour.
But she insists. Look at me, she says. I am so beautiful. I am so tender. I am here. Stop avoiding me.
And so today, finally, in the quiet of an empty house, I took a blue velor cushion off the couch. I set a timer for 15 minutes.
Let’s start with that, OK? I asked her. OK, she said.
And so we sat together. I kept my eyes open the whole time and noticed how badly I wanted to go put the sheets in the dryer. I stayed with her and counted my breaths, one to ten, rarely getting past two, or six. Coming back to my breath was akin to walking a stray dog on a leash and expecting it to understand any commands. And then the timer chimed and that was it.
Now what? I asked her. Now you run, she answered.
So I changed into running clothes and I ran. After about twenty minutes, sweating, I repeated the words out loud: You sound sad.
Yes, I said.
You are finding your way through. This is the way through. Everyone tells me.
I am finding my way through, I repeated. Grieve, I told myself. Grieve tenderly or angrily or lovingly, it doesn’t matter how.
And then I walked the last few minutes home, and found a brand new blank notebook waiting for me on the table where I left it months ago.
I will be back tomorrow, I tell her. Promise? she asks. Same cushion?
Yes, I say. I promise.