I’m in the crying stage. I’ve been through shock, irrational fury, stoicism and looking on the bright side. Now every word, every memory, every small thing makes me cry.
This is good. The tears have to come out or they get stuck inside and turn angry and bitter.
The difficult part is not the tears, it is that this stage makes me feel as if I have been stripped of a layer of skin. I have absolutely no defences against the slings and arrows, and find normal conduct a strain, like walking uphill in a headwind. A well-meant suggestion feels like a shattering criticism of my entire self. The usual rough and tumble of other people living their usual lives makes me feel as if I have been hurled into a rioting crowd. A careless word or a sharp tone of voice are like red-hot brands on my paper-thin skin. An oversight feels like arrant rejection. A mild demand feels like a roaring sergeant-major is sending me up Everest without oxygen.
I don’t like wimpishness. I don’t like the stripped skin part because it reduces me to one of those weedy drama queens whose company is so exhausting. I don’t want to be that person. I want to butch up. But butchness will only return with time and I have to bloody well wait it out. I have to go slowly. This part cannot be rushed. This pisses me off quite a lot.
I suddenly think those clever Edwardians had it right when they went into black for six months after a death, and then lavender for the next six. It was a subtle, tacit sign to say Handle with Care. Many people are afraid of grief, and desperately want one to get back to normal. This is kind and faintly callous at the same time; it is very human and entirely understandable. The singed spirit does not want pity or even sympathy. The yearning heart does not need everyone to walk on eggshells. Solemn faces are not required. Jokes and laughter are essential. But gentleness and kindness and thought are needed and not everyone has those immediately to hand.
Some people are naturals with grief just like some people are natural with horses. I am passionately glad for those people. Oddly enough, today the best and most shimmering of them was the lady in the Co-op. Our Co-op is a small shop, and I know quite a lot of the people behind the till well. There is one I especially like and this morning she spoke the most beautiful and soothing words. They were so fluent, so authentic, so poetic that it was as if she had rehearsed them for this very moment. She had no fear and she had no pity. She had understanding, and a generosity of spirit which shone out of her like starlight.
Not everyone gets it. Why should they? But I cherish the ones who do.
Just two today. They are of the person who gets it most of all. She is all gentleness and peace and understanding. She was as tender with me today as if I had been made of glass. Horses are famously telepathic and thoroughbreds especially so, because of their high sensitivity and intelligent. But this has taken it to a whole new level. I think she has been secretly watching Spinal Tap, and has decided to crank up her loveliness to eleven: