Is there such a thing?
Grief rhymes with thief.
That much is true.
I am always grieving.
Something has always been stolen
will be stolen
You thought it was about love
but it is always grief that wins.
Grief who writes the books
waiting just under the skin
for a little pin prick
a little release
and then the slow unending bleed.
© Shaista Tayabali, 2014
I am reading Helen Macdonald's 'H is for Hawk' and it feels like a culmination, a coming home. Macdonald is a falconer who decided to train a goshawk after her father died. She uses words I have to look up like 'palimpsest' and 'annealed' and shares a world of wildness and rapture and wings. I've never read anything like it.
Every day I want to write, and I can't. At least, I cover no significant ground. A poem here, a diary or journal entry there, an email, a letter… but none of those hours one needs to devote to finish a BOOK. You know, those things that look like blocks, but come apart on one side. Who said that?* Someone with a snide sense of humour, and a remonstration to those who don't read the way writers do. Obsessively, compulsively. Like the pages are a nest you are building to live in, forever.
Except, sometimes, you don't have forever. Because you have advanced glaucoma and a metaphoric wolf snarling or muttering at you all the day long hours. At night I relax. Maybe the wolf is tired of all that snarling and curls up, close beside me but so still I can pretend I am alone.
Just before my birthday, a friend of mine died. She wasn't someone I saw very much because she had cancer and although we were both in and out of the same hospital, a lupus and a cancer patient share only a language of needles, sickness, wit and the long shadow of death and grief. We rarely share wards or infusion bays. Sometimes we do, like when Clive James sat opposite me and we shared Marian Keyes' Guinness cake, but mostly cancer has its own world. And lupus squeezes in here and there between leukaemia and rheumatoid arthritis. There have been so many deaths in our family over the past six years, including, most recently, my aunt Gerda, and so I think my grief over my friend's death was really a sense of exhaustion with all of the deaths, the private ones and the public ones on the news. We are bombarded, are we not?
A few months before my friend Selene Mills died, we met for tea at the local deli and she gave me a pelargonium. For weeks afterwards, I'd been meaning to write to her and tell her I couldn't bear to throw the petals away because they were so beautiful. She worked for the Cambridge Early Music group and the music at her funeral, chosen by her, left me wishing I could read music, play music, so I could have truly understood her. I am so envious of all of you who play instruments! But what I can do is appreciate music and extraordinary literature and the slow perfect growing of a plant potted by loving hands and a generous heart. And that must be enough for now.
*F. Scott Fitzgerald now that I've looked it up...