The runners were there again in the night pounding a path through my sleep and yanking me back into the hot dark room, the net. I stared up the ceiling criss-crossed with bars of black and waited to sink back to a quieter place, waited for my peace to come.
Shouts, dogs, then angry rap that seemed to pulse out of the walls. Every bite on my body itched irritably. My worries paraded before me, perverse sheep to bleat me back to sleep, sniggering at all my talk, my hope, my daylight dreams.
Suddenly grief was in the room, pushing a pillow over my face, a knee on my chest. It fought me half heartedly for a second and then lay down beside me. It knew that only I could pick the path and end the fight.
We didn’t speak. I acknowledged it’s presence only with a trickle of tears, whispers to someone else who could not listen.
It pointed at the empty places, the holes in the night. All of my brokenness was there, angry words scrawled on empty canvases, speaking spaces of what is now not.
I started to count my way back into myself, that trick to bring back a fingerhold, a grip, to slice feeling into bites I can manage when it is swarming around me and stealing my breath.
Now nearly 5, woke at 4, 3 – in 3 days it will be 3 months since I saw dad, since his eyes were open, since I held his hand and felt it grow cold in mine. It is a lifetime gone and just quarter of a year, too short yet far too long.
I miss him like the sunshine.
As I counted the steps I started to see how far I have travelled. What I most feared happened, and I am still here. There have been days so dark that I thought nothing could rise, and yet I have.
With this little distance I can see that I am stronger than before, braver. I choose to be raw because it is real.
My fears only squeak at me now, they’re too scared of me to roar…
I thought of a quote by Steve Jobs I’d read on a Facebook wall: ‘remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart’.
I wrote those words inside me, snuggled closer to my grief, hurting, crying, but thankful for all it has brought me and then wriggled my way back into sleep.
There is nothing I need to fight. I’ve won by losing.