This was originally published in Story Sessions' PDF for February. I was working on our PDF for June, and stumbled across this piece, and knew I had to post it. I am a woman who marks time. I can't help it. And this weekend marks a year since grief came and made its home in our hearts. We've found joy since then, but we still remember—and we still hope—and we still lean into the grief because sometimes, it's the only way we know to take that next step.
Stepping out of the bathtub, steam danced off my skin. Everything felt heavy. My shoulders. My eyes. My fingers. I closed my eyes and pressed my face into the towel.
The grief would end soon, right?
It doesn’t last forever, does it?
We were two days outside us getting the phone call that changed the trajectory of our lives. We were with my parents when it happened. At home, a baby swing waited in the living room, a onesie nestled comfortably on the changing table. Everything was in its place.
And then nothing was.
Grabbing my phone off the floor, I gathered the courage to look myself in the eyes and document even this—the breaking. The continual motion of caving inward.
The moon’s gonna rise no matter what.
I hummed the song rooting itself in my heart and ears and clicked the button.
I sat there and stared at the picture and felt my throat knot itself with recognition.
After so many years separated, there she was—my shadow self.
Even in that moment of wild grief, the inner warrioress was roaring to life.
My shoulders look as if they’re falling down toward the ground to meet my knees.
My lips turn upward in a sardonic smirk of protection—it’s either this expression or the crumpled mess of chaotic tears.
My hair is thrown up and around and cascades every which way—one lone tendril hanging by itself.
And my eyes? My eyes say it all.
I am done. I am done and I am spent and I am tired and pleasedon’tmakemefaceanymoreofthispain but I’m living and breathing and dammit if I’m not gonna make it another day because there’s a strength within me that wasn’t there before. And this mama-heart is roaring and moaning and my hands are clenching my nightgown but I am inhaling this next moment.
I filtered it in black and white that looks like grey, because that was the color of my world, and posted it with these words:
Some days, this curious hope ignites with fresh vision. Other days it disappears, waiting for me to find my way back.
I realized something then. Sometimes, marking time by spilling words or clicking the lens means us leaving sticks in the dirt as a way to find our path back home. And sometimes, marking time is a simple way of finding ourselves returned. Embodied. Rooted.
I went to bed that night with a deeper understanding of this heart of mine. I always knew there was a lion roaring for her freedom in between my rib cages, but I never knew she’d bust loose from grief. I never anticipated that this moment would be the moment I’d finally hear her once and for all and know that she wasn’t meant to be enslaved or hidden or kept tame. Since then, I’ve done better at listening and knowing what makes her purr. I wait for the beating of her paws against my chest when something crashes against my Spirit. And I never forget this moment captured in time, when I met her in my eyes.