Grief Waves

It feels like I’m in a boat and the water keeps coming in and I just keep bailing but I can only get through the first few inches of water before the next wave comes. Wave after wave filling the boat, and I just keep bailing. The water is so cold down by my feet. I don’t even know which layers of water are which.

Under the Black Sea the water sits in two layers which do not mix. The top is oxygen-rich, and the bottom salty, anoxic and preserving.

Grief is like this. The waters sit in layers and the bottom most one holds all the things that can’t decay because there’s no light or air that reaches them.

I see you next to me, bailing out your boat. I don’t know where we’re sailing to. I don’t know if there are any islands in this ocean, or if the horizon will land us in some pleasant green country. I’m not sure I believe dry land exists anymore. It may be that this ocean is all we have. Some nights are dark, some are full of stars and others storms, sometimes winged fish leap from the waves flashing moments of joy and wonder.

Our boats are half empty. That’s something. We are staying afloat. We’ll keep bailing.

Maybe a better bucket will float by and I can grab it and bail more water out. Maybe someday I’ll make it to that cold, briny layer and unearth the things that wait for me there, preserved like sunken ships full of bodies. And I’ll drag each one from the depths into the sun and let the birds take their share and fly away. Maybe I’ll never get to it.

Lash your boat to mine. We’ll make a little flotilla. Who needs dry feet or dry land? Maybe it was just an illusion. Maybe life is just us, navigating under the splendid sky, bailing out our boats and staying afloat. Maybe our bodies are the earth. Maybe our hair is the grass and our legs and arms the trees. Maybe our destination is already within us. I can feel roots growing from between my toes. I can hear horses thundering across dusty plains.

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