One Night in a Bar with Grief & Gratitude

“Resilience does not mean bouncing back to where you were before or pretending that the hard stuff isn’t hard. It’s painful, messy stuff. But, it’s the stuff.” ~ Lucy Kalanithi

When my fellow grievers ask, “How are you?” I want to tell them I’m fine.

I’m farther on the journey, so I want to tell them it gets better—because it has. I want to tell them I miss him now more than ever—because I do.

They’re not grieving the man I am—my beloved who died 15 months ago. Each of these friends carries their own loss—more recent, fresh and raw.

I tell them I’m moving on, even seeing other men, but my heart is still deeply in love with Kevin.

Kevin is dead.

With these two friends, I can say his name loud and proud, although they only know him the way I know Jeff’s brother, Michael and Sharon’s sister, Judy—through afterlife stories.

I don’t tell them about the morning I woke up with the man I went to bed with the night before only to be deeply disappointed—not because of anything I did or didn’t do or who he is—but, because he isn’t Kevin. So, I went into the bathroom and sobbed.

I’m still so sad. Even these two, who completely get it, aren’t privy to the part of me that’s in agony.

I’m not keeping a secret from them; I’m keeping it from myself.

I’m still sad. I don’t think any other man will ever compare. I’m mad that my man is dead—still. Hasn’t he been dead long enough?

I envy the two grievers sitting opposite me in a booth at Matt the Miller’s bar because they have long term marriages with the loves of their lives. I’m jealous.
I wanted a chance at that—even though Kevin and I came together decades after we met, giving us a late start off the bat. But, really? That’s all we got—a start?

I talk to my friends about divine timing—how I believe my brother, mother and beloved lived their full lives—even though for me, they died too soon.

I amaze myself with truths that are also lies.

I’m fine. I’m crumbling. It will be okay. It gets better.

F*ck that. F*ck it all.

As Jeff says, “I’ve got no f*cks to give.”

We seem to cuss a lot. Tonight. Together. In grief.

How am I? I’m sad because we’re all grieving, but comforted because we’re in it together.

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5 thoughts on “One Night in a Bar with Grief & Gratitude

  1. As time goes by….time just goes by. Stuff happens and I think of my brother. They aren’t sad thoughts, but they are persistent. Mike is still with me, same as Judy is with Sharon and Kevin is with you and as long as they are, a small piece of them lives on in us. Just as pieces of us will live on in others when our time comes to go.

    Nothing particularly profound about any of it. It’s just how it is and no matter hard it sucks it will keep on keepin’ on that way.

    Write on.

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    1. I think some of those persistent thoughts about your brother are crying to be put on paper, Jeff. Just for you. Just for now. Just a nudge from a friend who considers you a stellar writer and grief (from your personal perspective) a worthy topic. This could be an opening of a piece: “As time goes on, time just goes by. Stuff happens and I think of my brother.” So subtle the uninitiated might not recognize it, but that’s the essence of grief.

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  2. Another strong, clear piece of dealing here, Alice. T.S. Eliot once said that “there is no solution but to be very intelligent”. I would say, “there is no solution but to be very courageous”. And weak, and muddled, and angry, and sad and the whole gamut of human feelings that go with the impossible and inevitable changes in one’s life and in oneself. But what this ends up doing is making one a whole lot more responsive to others as well as yourself, and I think this is how real compassion gets built. (darn it!) .

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