Grief like this

Our birth/death calendar has quite a few February entries, some new this year. Hello brand new Carolyn Grace, and goodbye dear sweet Frankie. As time goes by I am more and more amazed with all the different ways that grief presents itself. So big and so small. So brutal and so gentle. With my Opa and Julie my life stopped each time, paused, skipped, stuttered and started back up wholly different. What I grieve of them is their love of me, selfish as that sometimes feels. They loved me unconditionally, they reminded me often, they held me and then they were gone. I am left loving them in a world where I am a little less shielded, a little more vulnerable. It is a loss I feel in all things, and one I’m used to.

On the anniversary of Matt’s death we didn’t go to the woods as planned. We got things done and ran errands and cooked dinner and we stayed just a few feet away from one another all day, gently orbiting. I grieve Matt differently and deeply. Without him in it the world is noticeably less. I felt safe with Matt alive, even two states over, and he was there for me in ways I didn’t know I needed- tattooing me when I felt lost or lonely, bringing over rabbits and teaching me to butcher them when I was hungry, driving me home when it was dark and I was alone, and making a ballpoint pen move with his mind when I was in desperate need of some wonder. He did his level best to set Tavi and me up together and now our sadness and loneliness over his absence commingle.

This time last year I couldn’t read this poem, and now it’s tucked in my mind like a touchstone.

Beaver Moon - The Suicide of a Friend
Mary Oliver

When somewhere life
breaks the pane of glass,
and from every direction casual
voices are bringing you the news,
you say: I should have known.
You say: I should have been aware.

That last Friday he looked
so ill, like an old mountain-climber
lost on the white trails, listening 
to the ice breaking upward, under
his worn-out shoes. You say:

I heard rumors of trouble, but after all
we all have that. You say:
What could I have done? and you go 
with the rest, to bury him.

That night, you turn in your bed
to watch the moon rise, and once more
see what a small coin it is
against the darkness, and how everything else
is a mystery, and you know
nothing at all except
the moonlight is beautiful-
white rivers running together
along the bare boughs of the trees-

and somewhere, for someone, life
is becoming moment by moment
unbearable. 

From 'Twelve Moons', Poems by Mary Oliver