I smelled woodsmoke today and my heart leapt in my chest because it smelled like you on the wind. Every now and then I find myself caught unawares and the creak of a chair or the scent of brewed coffee finds me straining for you. The footsteps that come next. The slam of the front door. Your voice calling out if I want something, too. It never happens, of course, but my mind and memory sit in anticipation and wait for something to come that isn’t there.
That is the ghost.
Baby Bee drug your chair out of the office and there’s no reason to stop her. She cloaks herself in a blanket she believes is mine and the symbolism of her wrapping herself in parts of each of us doesn’t escape me. Snug on top of Dad with Mom tucked around her.
I am stuck in a place of waiting. Not just because of this virus, though if I must be honest it feels sort of right that the world has stopped spinning. It mimics how my mind and heart feel. Everything is wrong. Nothing feels right. The world and I mirror each other. Everyone is confused and restless and listless. Just like me. I am topsy turvy. The world is topsy turvy. Like rain when you’re crying, the outside is matching me, in some bizarre way.
But, I’m still waiting. Waiting for footsteps that don’t fall and laughter that doesn’t rumble and sneezes that startle everyone. Waiting for the squeak of the chair and the clink of the belt buckle and the sound of your voice from the office that has already stopped smelling like coffee and leather.
Grief is tactile.
It is active and moving and living and breathing.
Grief is trying to decide if smelling your body wash or spraying your cologne will comfort or pain. Grief is forgetting, for a moment, that it’s Baby Bee wrapped in a blanket making the chair squeak in its familiar way and my ears longing for what it knows should come next. Grief is the pile of substitute pillows. Grief is cooking for four and too many leftovers that we will never eat because you ate the leftovers. Grief isn’t wanting to cook at all because that is something that grew under your pride and love and patience and the talent and enjoyment of it has fled and I don’t know if it will return. Grief is skipping past songs I love because I can’t bear them. Grief is the silencing of singing along with the radio because, as I’ve told you, I sing when I’m happy and I am not.
Grief is a wave and it breaks over me and drags me down and pushes me up.
Remember the day my bathing suit broke and our stuff nearly swept out to sea and we laid, gingerly, next to each other because we were both so damn sunburned? I took a picture of you in the room’s only chair. You are happy and relaxed, the corners of your eyes crinkled in a smile. I turned the picture black and white to hide the sunburn.