“One by one, drops fell from her eyes like they were on an assembly line – gather, fall, slide…gather, fall, slide…each one commemorating something she had lost. Hope. Faith. Confidence. Pride. Security. Trust. Independence. Joy. Beauty. Freedom. Innocence.”
― Lisi Harrison, Monster High
I was never ashamed of my tears. I only held them back for the benefit of others when I could help it, other times, I let them fall freely. To be honest, I hadn’t perfected the art of keeping emotions in check. It was a big disgrace, because there are people in the world who think it is a weakness. Maybe it is, and maybe I did come across as an emotional wreck. But I never cried because my fish pie got burnt in the oven or because my iPod fell in a pond. It was never that simple. There were people who could make me cry. They could make me feel overwhelming emotions, grief and love like I never knew before, but I doubt they knew that or even cared.
John Green describes grief as something that doesn’t change you but instead reveals you. I think it can do both, but changes come from the revealing itself. It happens slowly, but effectively. And we barely notice it happen. Grief changed the way I look at the world, the way I perceive it and the way I present myself to it now. At the same time, it also revealed my endurance, weaknesses and strengths.
There’s no way around grief, you have to go through it, and the road leads on. You have to keep walking forward, but it’s the constant looking back that slows you down and keeps you standing and waiting. We look back wishing we did things differently, said things we couldn’t and didn’t have to leave behind certain people who took another road instead. I realised that these are people who were never really ours, so they don’t make it to our present or the future.
Yet, there comes a time to look back. This is when you have kept going for a good long while, miles from where you left. The view you see then is the new territory you have just reached. It may not be fields of golden corn, orchards or lavender fields, but it is definitely not what you were trying to leave behind. After all, it is the journey that is important, not the destination. You have to move and keep moving until there is no sign of the place you wanted to leave behind.
Once you do, it is the ideal time to look at yourself too, and I saw myself like I had never seen before. I was weather beaten from the journey, I had scars from the past and bruises when I fell along the way and I was finally learning the art of keeping emotions in check. A part of me was stronger, a part of me was weaker, a part of me was dead, a part of me was alive, a part of me was older and a part of me was younger, but I saw it all. There was more of me and there was less of me. The images of the green fields I used to know and love were finally disappearing. My tears seem to have smudged their colours and blurred their shapes.
The insults which were hurled at me and the animosity I received from others, exist as apparitions which suddenly appear and disappear. I do wince at the sight of them, but they don’t last very long. I learnt life lessons that are taught in no other way. Although, the existence of broccoli in no way affect the taste of chocolate, I tasted enough broccoli to hold dear forever the sweetness of chocolate. The scars will remain and they will remind me why I have them, but I will never look at them the same way I used to.
When grief strikes, only time and tears can make coherent sense of it. Things will change, for the better or for the worse; the important thing is they will change.