There was a time in my life when I thought pushing grief away was the unhealthiest thing you could do. Let it out, I’d tell myself. Don’t hold it inside, I’d admonish others. Any day of the week you could find me “dealing with” my pain; shouting it from rooftops and stages. Telling grocery store clerks you know I lost my Mama last week, yesterday, twenty two years ago. Now I am grown. Real grown. Now I see it differently. Now I have lots of big jobs: I’m raising two little boys and helping my daughter, the oldest, get through college. I have to grocery shop, get an oil change. teach, pay the rent, watch my carbs, keep up with ‘This Is Us’. So much and all of it while grieving. So I have learned the age-old art of swallowing, holding my hurt at bay until it’s convenient to let it gush. And gush. So I gush at night when my husband turns off the bedroom light. I gush in the car on the way to Bank of America. I gush in the movies which works splendidly because everyone else is gushing and it’s dark. I know how to hold it in like a big girl and let it out like a baby at the appropriate times. This is a play straight out of the Grown Folks Book of Rules which I have yet to read but I know Barnes and Noble must carry. Is this good for me? Is this the best way to carry this lifelong bucket of agony so heavy with water? I don’t know. Am I setting myself up for one of those diseases folks say you get when you internalize emotions for too long? I don’t know. Does this improve the quality of my life? Sorta. At least I don’t walk into CVS with snot on my collar. At least I can look normal and happy and adult. I feel like I’ve joined a club with millions of members. We are all holding it in, right? Pretending that life is enough and that we’ve got all our ouches under control. Straight-backed and stiff upper-lipped we go. Carrying on. Soldiering. Asking our neighbors how’s it going and starting the car before they have a chance to say it’s going badly. I’m a mess. Just like you. You see last night my father died and… And off we go, spewing exhaust fumes all over his pain. His little awful, deflated volleyball of hurt. But since he’s one of us, he knows exactly what to do next. Fold that angst like a tiny quilt and tuck it away til the lights go out. Til he’s stuck in traffic. Til that new ‘Avengers’ comes out. Swallow it like the rest of us. Little moments of getting over it. Handling things. Welcome to the club.