I didn't know what to expect when I started writing. I followed the advice of a widow and a writer that I know and signed up without questioning my motives. I didn't know her very well. Just knew those two things about her. Just knew that she was probably the same kind of person as me and that she found it helpful. And I knew that writing would be the only handrail in the darkness, the only way out of the swirling waters of grief.
I didn't know the waters would be so deep or so violent. I thought I'd be pretty expert at this grieving lark by now. I am very experienced, skilled, surely, in the art of losing gracefully. But this grief has surprised me. The force of it. The rage of it. Like the time I got caught in a riptide in California and was pulled out to sea. Even me, the strongest swimmer I knew, who thought I was invincible, was powerless against its force. Or in New Zealand where the waves pulled me with them and tumbled me over and over like I was so much washing in the machine, dumping me on the sand and dragging me backwards so that my knees bled. I learned afterwards that you can't swim against those kinds of currents. You have to swim sideways if you want to get out of them, or else you are pulled out to sea, dragged by the undertow.
I haven't been able to swim against this tide of grief either, have had to succumb to the force of the water, allowing it to pull me way out where the life rafts can't reach me, succumbing to the waves, emerging exhausted and bleeding. Writing is a way of surrendering, whilst not quite drowning. Sharing is a way of waving to the people back there on the shore.
I suppose, in the end, what I didn't realise was just how much I loved you. I had downplayed it, kept it quiet, thought that shouting about it might jinx it. I had learned the lessons of experience and waded in gently this time, letting the water creep up slowly around me rather than diving in headfirst. You were doing the same. Love swelled between us and then crashed, subsided like waves on the beach and we retreated, regrouped and came back together, over and over again. We would always have returned. The pull between us was like gravity. Hopeless trying to resist that force. We knew deep down that we were destined to be. Now I am all at sea. No-one really knew what you meant to me. I didn't quite know it myself. I hope perhaps you did. I hope you know it now. I do.