what is grief, if not love

I think a lot about grief.

I think everyone navigates through a series of losses as they make their way through life. Every transition comes with some grief, every gain requires something left behind. But I know this pandemic has brought grief to the forefront of our everyday life and the challenge, then, becomes figuring out how to live with the grief. How to carry it. How to bargain with it. It never really goes, but you can learn to move forward, I think. Make it smaller. Pocket sized instead of a boulder on your back.

When I started to write what later would become my book, Honey in the Marrow, I was curious about what an extremely competent woman would look like when blindsided by grief. And then, not very far into writing it, my grandfather died.

Let me tell you, writing about grief as an intellectual experiment and writing about grief as someone firmly in its clutches are two very different experiences. I was raised in large part, by my grandparents, and so it felt more like losing my father. It wasn’t a long goodbye, either, so not only do you have the devastation of your loss but the surprise of it is really what takes the wind out of you. Suddenly, the writing of that story became a way to process my own emotions. Suddenly the things my character was going through weren’t what if scenarios. It was me that couldn’t sleep. It was me that ate like crap. It was me that cried in the car or the shower to try to hide it.

Do you remember in WandaVision when Vision asks “What is grief, if not love persevering?” I remember seeing that, a good year after I had finished writing that story and those words sent me right back to that place. The hurt and the sadness and the realization that I had all this love for someone and nowhere left to put it. No way to hand it over. One of the strangest things about losing him was the way that so many of the things I’d given him over the years came back to me. Small gifts, books, articles. The little tokens of affection were returned, because not only was he not there to accept my love, but you really can’t take it with you.

And at first, seeing those trinkets caused a sharp pain, but now I can look at them without the sudden hurt. I can look at a baseball that I’d given him once now and see not the grief alone, but the love persevering.

Honey in the Marrow is a book about grief. But I don’t want that to scare anyone off, because more than that, it’s about love persevering. It’s about realizing that you still have the ability to love, even in the high tide of your sadness. It’s about understanding that even though you’re not going to follow the path you thought, there’s still good things out there. Love, hope, family, friendship. Sadness scares people off, sometimes, but I think the sadness can make the love story all the sweeter, so I hope you give the book a try.

And in the next post, I even get to show you the cover.

3 thoughts on “what is grief, if not love

  1. ZH

    Funnily enough, knowing how well you grieve 😊 reading that it is an important part of this upcoming back makes me very excited for it. A bit odd perhaps, but yes, we all know grieve in different ways and to differing degrees, but yes a story about grieve combined with some hope, with love, well, that sounds like just what I want to read right now actually.
    I am very sorry for your loss, for your grieve and the pain and sadness. Hat tip to your grandfather and you.

  2. ZH

    In me previous comment I sadly forgot the word “write” in the first sentence: how well you write grieve. Please forgive 🙃

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