Waking Up to Grief

Waking up to grief is like coming out of a dream to the sound of a washing machine out of balance.

Knock, thump, rattle…

And your sleep-fuzzed brain screams through the fog, “WHAT IS THAT SOUND?”

That is the sound of a mundane task you started last night turned into a banshee’s idea of a percussion section come morning.

That is the sound of an inner world with its contents clinging, wet and heavy and useless, to one side of the equation.

That is the sound of a heart pounding on the walls of a prison, demanding, not freedom, but just to be reminded how to beat.

That is grief.

The irregular knocking on the walls of memory begins before I open my eyes. There is a gap in the energy of the room, a vacancy where once there was a physical weight that grounded my awareness and committed me to rising to face the day.

I still slide my feet to the floor with caution, expecting even as my waking mind reminds me of the unlikelihood of that expectation being satisfied, that my bare toes might, this one time more, meet the sleek fur and solid rump of my guardian who has, in her most recent manifestation, appeared as a big black dog.

Of course she isn’t there. That manifestation isn’t coming back.

It’s been four months and forever since she slept in her spot next to the bed.

Each morning, as I stop the machine, rearrange the contents, and begin the cycle anew, I think about that voice I heard on our last ride together. “I’ve done what I came to do. Now when are you going to get on with what you’re here to do?”

I don’t know.

But tonight I think I’m getting closer.

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