When big life changes are upon someone, bygone times seem to be pulled up from the wreckage as if on cue. They await your arrival, they patiently lurk until ready to strike, just at the most inconvenient of times: when you are ready to move onto life’s next big thing. They glare at you with those shining red eyes until you cannot ignore them. You want to pick them up and hold them, in hopes it will make the evils of them dissipate.
I grieve for bygone times; I regress to times when I had the people I love around me all the time and when I lived in a place where it was socially acceptable to visit random people’s “houses” anytime you wanted, when every night, you and all your friends would go for dinner together and sit at a round table laughing and joking and eating horrible-yet-amazing cafeteria food. I regress to times when I thought I’d found the man of my dreams, and when I had two best friends who loved me unconditionally, who made a silent promise to me that they would always have my back. I regress to a time when my biggest worry was writing 12 pages and turning it in on time, when my biggest drama was, my roommates’ mother is coming to stay and it makes me slightly uncomfortable, when my full-time job responsibilities lasted only one summer until I could return to academia in September and drink in the collegiate environment, the changing crisp leaves, when I drank eight cups of coffee a day. Sometimes I even regress back to a time when my high school friends and I would sit on this wooden bench in the hallway of our school during a spare eating cheese buns and coffee from the Bear’s Paw Bakery and chit-chat and laugh and take funny pictures.
Grief is a stoic feeling; it dampens all good feelings in its path; if grief is the squeaky wheel, it is always getting the grease, should it be present. Grief isn’t always about death; grief is about loss, or about something that’s gotten lost. I grieve for the times I regress to. I miss them. I conjure them in memories and prose and photographs, but it’s not enough to bring them back. And now, everything is awry, everything seems amiss, everything is ‘different’. That’s growing up: realizing that everything you had, no longer exists, and that life is an ever-moving train that you must continue to ride, even while bypassing all of the boundless beauty along the way in swirling whirlwinds of colour that happens so quickly, you barely notice it. Grief is the reason that growing up is so tough.
My world is spinning upside down and all I can think of is the recent grieving I feel; that feeling when you know someone for years and years intimately, and then you see them in a passing crowd and receive from them a dirty look and a cold-shoulder. As if they’re looking through you, as if your past lives together and apart never happened, or they happened but meant nothing. Or they happened but worst of all, they were all a lie.
I feel bogged down with everything; nervousness travelling with my animal and fears of inadequacy, failure, finances, relationships, fitting in with a totally new culture that I’m unsure I can adhere to being the way I am, navigating my away around a city that is yes, familiar, but at the same time, completely foreign and strange, and nervousness about the ability to stay in touch, the natural migration of friends, that I will no longer wake up every morning, go to work, and see the same people every day that I’ve grown accustomed to spending time with day in and day out. Three years here in this place, and now as I move forward, I may regress to this three-year period too. I may wonder if it’s possible to go back and how, after so much has changed. I may wish badly to be connected and feel isolated from my past, a past that was a most prominent part of my life and my personal growth. I may.
The only way out of grief is through; by talking and receiving support and touching base and sending cards and remembering what you are grateful for in the here-and-now but still taking time to acknowledge those feelings of grief and sadness and emotional peril and turmoil that can accompany huge life changes. All I want for myself, and for anyone else who is ‘grieving’, is happiness and fulfillment, and for that gradual ‘moment’ when grief turns from anguish and pain and adversity and anger and sadness, into memory and maturity and strength.