Grief is so weird. The best grief counselor in the world agrees with me, because I stole that line from her. I hate how one minute you’re cleaning out your office and the next you’re absolutely sobbing over the handwritten notes you didn’t know were in your memory box, because the box just happened to fall over at the precise moment you were feeling like ripping your heart out would just be easier. As Josh Woodward said in the song, “I’ll Be Right Behind You, Josephine”, “if you ripped my heart out, the only thing I’d feel is less alone.” Then, ten minutes later, you’re eating popsicles like nothing ever happened.
The best and the worst day just become the same.
Sometimes, it doesn’t happen that way. I know I need to make some space for grief in my life, because there’s no way that someone who shaped my life this much just packs up and leaves. No, she’s with me every step of the way as we pack up the mental house she lived in when she occupied so much space in my head.
It’s her nightstand that’s the hardest, and not because I slept on the other side of the bed. Quite the contrary. It’s my head. My house is much bigger. And has a pool. And free umbrella drinks from 4-7 every Thursday.
But I digress.
Her nightstand- where she kept all her journals and letters. I could barely read them before, but now the ink is fading on her hieroglyphics. One tear fell years ago, and is marked by a big blotch of blue ink on the bottom right corner.
I remember Massenet’s opera Werther, Charlotte clutching Werther’s letters to her chest and trying to smell the flowers he sent for any trace of lingering odor. In this small way, I am Charlotte and Charlotte is me- the age old story of losing someone you love (or, at least, thinking you did).
What Charlotte has that I do not is that her feelings are not particularly conflicted. She is in love with Werther, and there is no downside to consider. In the real world, relationships are more complicated than that. She’s verbally abusive. She’s emotionally underhanded. She is capable of looking me in the eye and telling me things that are not true. She’s toxic and letting her live in that mental house for so long was a disaster ’cause she kept building additions.
The problem with this analogy is that I am exactly like her. I’m just as much of an asshole, if not better at it than she is because I learned from the best. It is annoying as hell to know this, but at the same time, it is an inescapable truth. She manipulated the hell out of me, and as a result, I can play her like a piano, too. She hates that.
I hate that out of all the people I’ve known for the last quarter century, I never thought to make sure that I stayed friends with someone who knew her. There is no one to say that my story has any validity. There’s no way to fact check anything, because anybody who would have seen us together is someone I absolutely would have run away from. They didn’t think we were having sex, they knew it. The problem was that we weren’t. At all. The rabid homophobia around us prevented people from seeing that we weren’t physically together… they just really wanted to believe it.
This grief is the death of my mothermentorsisterfriend, and the death of my biggest enemy. We could not be that close without being that terrible to each other. Our defenses became impenetrable, because they are made from the same material.