Grief the Day After

I remember my my Mims (short for Mimere {French for grandma}) the Thanksgiving my Gramps (short for grandpere{grandfather) died. She made the big dinner, and the air inside the house was humid with the smell of boiled onions and French-Canadian stuffing. Just as we were about to eat, Gramps came into the living room, pale, settling into his beige chair in a shadowy corner of the room. I was 10, seated on the floor in front of the chair. “I don’t feel well,” he said. “I think I’ll just have a bun and gravy.” There was a pause followed by a flurry of activity. After mild protestation Gramps climbed into a car bound for North Adams Hospital, and I and my sister were left with my older cousins and an uneaten dinner. None of us felt like eating, but we tried.

I would never see Gramps again.

The adults returned later trying to feign normality,but I felt something bad was happening. I walked next door to be with Mims. She was sitting at her black and white table,on an orange plastic chair, pulling meat off the largely uneaten turkey for soup. It was a ritual that this year consumed her conscious mind. She moved slowly, always focused on the next bone, the next piece of meat on that bone, the next motion to pile the meat in a bowl. We made small talk my Mims and I. But she could not stop, or glance up too long. She had to keep going.

Grief is heavy and hard. Love or hope or dreams gone, leaving a cold, sharp iron claw in the place joy should be. It weighs tons, and carrying it, you move ever so slow.

And I feel that grief today. And like my Mims, I have buried the pain in a ritual of work, my laundry. After campaigning hard for the Dems, knocking on 60 or more doors, having pleasant conversations punctuated by the rudeness that is now part of the Trump brand, I am doing my laundry, then ironing, then hanging my clothes neatly in order by color. I cannot glance up from my labors lest I see all I have fought against and suffered with all my working life — packaged as it is in a old, ugly, fat dimwit serial adulterer foul-mouthed orange bump of a misogynist and new leader of the Western world. To his right, the KKK and the American Nazi Party. To his left, a new form of Christianity that has rewritten the 10 commandments and the two great commandments into thee: thou wilt cut taxes for the rich, thou wilt outlaw abortion, and thou wilt not allow gay marriage. These commandments must be somewhere in some form of the New Testament but were somehow left out of my Catholic version.

Have to go. Laundry is dry.image