Day 2: What does not show…

Day 2: “what you don’t know… ” or: “what does not show…”

We all carry sad stories inside curled up and crying  to seep out. I see it behind behind the blanketed dull and far off stares in eyes of strangers behind me waiting to order lattes. It’s a flat, matte light, lacking liveliness in their look as they gaze at nothing in particular, or maybe searching for hope or contact on their phones. So few of us are alive.

IMG_2996A child is alive. And then he is not.

What does it mean to be alive? It means to feel. To taste colors — smooth and fiery orange Brandy burning down the back of one’s throat. And to whif pine scented underarm deodorant mulched with mildewing crunchy copper leaves and tears of raindrops on the breeze. It’s sadness in October. And sunshine, anytime, anywhere, warming your face. It’s the heart-racing thrill of the drop and the jerk and the trill of a roller coaster. Being alive sparks a light in the eyes that flickers and dances and knows things and recognizes life.

When he stopped being alive, I stopped caring what others saw in my eyes. I do not dab makeup over my grief. I lost the will to care or conceal the purplish, puffy circles encasing my eyes. These swollen, grief-stricken blisters of vision are my new glasses and I wear them with love and dignity. With the honor and privledge that comes from walking hand-in-hand, with life at its best and silliest. I still feel. I feel so deeply and brutally it’s hard to stand up. And I don’t care what the others in the coffee line are thinking. They are not seeing me now any more than before from their eyes in a room with lights out, anyway.


Today’s prompt is about the public face we present versus what we know inside – the gulf between what we show and what is real:

“If you have ever lost a loved one, then you know exactly how it feels. And if you have not, then you cannot possibly imagine it.”
Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning

“I accepted all this counsel politely, with a glassy smile and a glaring sense of unreality. Many adults seemed to interpret this numbness as a positive sign; I remember particularly Mr. Beeman (an overly clipped Brit in a dumb tweed motoring cap, whom despite his solicitude I had come to hate, irrationally, as an agent of my mother’s death) complimenting me on my maturity and informing me that I seemed to be “coping awfully well.”

And maybe I was coping awfully well, I don’t know. Certainly I wasn’t howling aloud or punching my fist through windows or doing any of the things I imagined people might do who felt as I did. But sometimes, unexpectedly, grief pounded over me in waves that left me gasping; and when the waves washed back, I found myself looking out over a brackish wreck which was illumined in a light so lucid, so heartsick and empty, that I could hardly remember that the world had ever been anything but dead.”
Donna Tartt,  The Goldfinch

We often put on our “public” face when we go out, hiding private pain behind a tight mask of “I’m fine, thanks,” and hurried attempts to walk-on-past. There is so much we do not say. So much hidden behind a public numbness, or a polite and clipped response. But inside, there is so much more: howling and punching, pounded by grief. What is hidden below the public surface.

If you could tell people something, tell them what is true, what is true about grief and love and loss, something they do not know, or can’t know, what would it be? If you could address them, what would be said?

From Megan Devine’s Refuge In Grief Write Your Grief Workshop

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