I lost a friend this year. She didn’t go anywhere, as far as I know, but she exited my life just the same. Like with any ending there was a bit of strife beforehand. So when she split with me, in an email on my birthday, I was able to get out one breath of relief before the heartsickness hit. And then my friends brought out a coconut cream cake and I blew out 29 candles while they sang. The months since have been similarly surreal. I wake up each morning in my own bed, next to the woman I love, surrounded by my belongings in their rightful places. I drive the same commute, I knit and sew and bake bread and make dinner and I eat. I go to the same bars and cafes and grocery stores, I walk the same sidewalks. And all day, everyday, I feel the crushing, nauseating, weight of a breakup.
What do you do with a broken heart that doesn’t actually touch the daily stuff of your life? How do you grieve this? In death we make small altars, we whisper memories in the dark, and we have become grave visitors, putting a hand on the grass in greeting. I don’t know what to do now, so I’ve limited action to what feels right. Knitting for the necks and hands of people I’m learning to trust here. Extra care for the plants, extra kneading for the bread, extra stitches in this quilt. Silence in lieu of music, wine instead of beer, tea most days. Last week we removed the dregs of this friend from our walls and hung up ladybugs. Small things are gathered in a box and archived.
What you do is wake up each morning and try to revel in your lover’s hair spread across the pillow. You notice the kitten in the neighbors window, you see it notice you. You pull the brown leaves off the spider plant and you pull the future towards you one breath at a time.