Sunday, 29 January 2017

Treading water

These days I feel like I am waiting, suspended between the past and the future, treading water, like a surfer hoping to catch a wave that never comes. Sometimes, I gear myself up, see something heading towards me, feel myself temporarily buoyed up, lifted on a positive tide. But it is always one of those waves that holds more promise than it can deliver, that subsides before it peaks, that leaves me stranded still, out at sea. Waiting.

At other times I feel myself to be trapped, looking out at the world through a window, wondering when I will be allowed back out there to join the throng of the living and the loving and the thriving. Instead, I stay inside, held hostage by grief. Surviving.

It is only six weeks now until the anniversary of your death and I feel it like an uneasy stillness in the air, like a darkening of the sky, like a tsunami building. I am afraid of the destruction it might bring, the memories it will dredge from the ocean floor, the way it will fling me backwards once again. And yet some part of me is counting still, counting down now, naively hoping that once the year is up, I can pack up my suitcase and leave the wreckage behind on Grief Island, start afresh.

A year is such a short time, they say and they are right, of course. If I live until I'm ninety, a year is but a drop of water in the ocean. But when the waves still come thick and fast and can't be ridden; when you have no-one to love or to love you; when you find work hard and socialising harder, a year can feel like an eternity. When it is broken down into days to get through, hours to keep breathing, minutes to stay alive, a year can feel as vast as the whole ocean. Sometimes there is no shore in sight.

I dabble with dating, hoping someone might send a boat to rescue me but I flounder in the water, unsure where I want to go, not sure I even want to leave the sea. I try to watch a film but the sight of a lifeless body leaves me reeling, cast back in time, shipwrecked again. I push the boat out and go to a party, find myself washed onto a foreign shore, observing people like they are natives in a distant land. Though I listen, I do not understand what they say.

Things will get better, I'm sure. Time will keep healing, I have no doubt. There will be happiness probably, one day, and even love. But it is so hard to live like this, suspended between the past and future, tossed about on the waves with no anchor, treading water.

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