As I wander through this grieving process, I know that a deal of that grieving is for myself. That might sound weird. I don’t consciously grieve for himself. Our life together was never on a clear wide road where we could see the views and the way ahead. It was more a stumble through the tangle woods, where sky is visible only through a knit of branches, the views, although yearned for, scarcely wide enough to be thus named. One of us always seemed to be trying to lose the other one, and, yet, afraid of exactly that.
This is the time of year to find snail shells. I think about the life that curled within those shells once, before even snails began to move more slowly, too slowly to avoid the hungry and vigilant thrush. I wonder if this snail was a happy snail, blissfully slithering across the ground, a living creature with eyes at the end of its tentacles, with a liver, a kidney, lungs and a heart. I know it has a memory, of sorts, one that will tell it where it has been and whether or not it would be wise to go there again. Such a tiny creature to be so well assembled. I found one, once, on the shore. It was almost bright pink, or, certainly, pinker than the ones I might find in my garden. Perhaps, I thought, it has eaten something down here, and, over an extended period of time that has elevated it from the other run of the mill snails, become a hybrid or royalty. It was certainly something to take back home and to put on display.
Each day wanders along as it will and I consider my feelings, notice them. The one that most surprises me is anger. I am angry for my past. This, I tell myself, and roundly, is surely the road to madness, for who can do a thing to change their past? But, I say, turning my head to look back, all that stumbling through the tangle woods seems like such a lunatic way to live a marriage. Who would ever choose this when just up there lies the clear wide road with views and visibility and service stations every 50 miles or less? I’m not sure we choose it. What we do is choose each other and then find ourselves in a Somewhere we would not have chosen, had we been availed of consequence. Too late, mate.
The anger I feel is busy with criticisms, mostly of me. I am almost word perfect in criticising me, as my friends tell me. This anger is like a catherine wheel that shoots off a post and spirals dangerously close to whoever stands too near. Children for example. Why did I not do this for this one when………Why did I not take action for this one then……Why did I accept this, or that, or this again and again and again? Oh, I know that this sort of self-flagellation will only ever hurt myself but it keeps a-coming, like Christmas and Fridays and lunchtime. At a sensible and logical level, it makes sense to dispel with such…..what….self-indulgence? Put like that I am right with you, but feelings will arise no matter how much logic and sensibility I bring to the table and this anger keeps on arising until I want to bash it over the head with a mallet just to silence it. I know there are others, unlike me, who can address life in general in a way most perfunctory. Their logic is king over their feelings. They can decide to deal with things in a way that never, ever, allows them to indulge in any collapse into confusion. Why would they? It would be (and I agree) a complete waste of time and just might mean they miss the start of Countdown. But I cannot seem to be that way. I am the one who scrambles and scrapes over sharp rocks and who slips down every crevasse, who flounders in the power of an incoming tide and who cannot sleep as the gibbous moon fills to her fullness, lighting up the sky like a super trooper on steroids.
As I walk today, the ground is icy. One degree the whole day long and the temperature will drop this clear wide night. Frost will sparkle on the ground, diamonds, twinkling. The woods are silent. No birds. The branches of the trees hold ice particles at the very tips of their fingers, droplets of water halted and frozen, natural jewels, catching the slow pinking of the sunset and making tiny rainbows. Deeper in, the silence is all around me. I hear only the scrunch of my boots and the rush of an incoming tide. The woods are mysterious, elegiac and waiting.
As am I.