Because I carry this grief with me like a second skin, it peeks its way through whenever there’s a current event dominating the news.
So, of course, with the rescue of those beautiful boys from the cave, I thought that’s it! Grief is just like that! It’s a cave, three football fields deep inside the Earth. You wait and wait, lick water from the stalactites to stay alive, and pray someone finds you. You’re thin. Your eyes bulge. There are tiny cuts on your arms and legs. You’re too scared to say you’re scared. It’s dark, the only light comes from the whites of the eyes of the others stuck, just like you. It’s damp. When you try to walk, you stumble over rocks and invisible ridges. You think all your uncles and cousins and coworkers have forgotten about you. You give up hope and write your will on the cave walls. Then voi-fucking-la, someone comes to save you, the glare from their tiny flashlight helmet writing your name on the cave floor.
All sorts of things save us,albeit temporarily, from grief. A midnight phone call from a friend who awoke and thought of us. A dinner invitation. A mint julep. A sweet thought written in a card frosted with pink flowers. Aretha unexpectedly spilling through your radio. A funny memory that leaves you laughing so hard you cry and wet your pants. Completing item three on your to-do list so you’re distracted long enough to get through your lunch break. A hug from Cousin Theresa. The cashier whispering to you that she’s lost her Daddy, too.
Something comes diving for you through water so dark it looks like a wall painted black. Someone comes shouting your name and it feels like you’re hearing it for the first time. A fellow comes in a submarine. A team arrives blowing a bugle horn just as you lay dying.
And you are rescued from grief’s gnashing jaws. Finally! Lord have mercy.
You are saved. Reprieved. For now.
There’s always another cave, another wave threatening to take us under. We best suit up. Learn to swim. Float.