I feel like a worn record sounds, my grief coming ’round in increasingly predictable patterns as I grow used to its grooves and scratches. First there were days, and then half-weeks, in which the visceral nature of my sadness eased off a bit, entire large periods of time in which I didn’t think about Jack, during which his absence ceased to be a presence. But the holidays are different, and Thanksgiving kicks off a period of year in which, at best, I feel isolated from the joy everyone else dances around. Instead of buying a tree, shopping, making gift-lists, or even cleaning house (metaphorically or literally), I find myself in bed all day, alternating between sleeping and reading, mostly the former. If I could whisk my away to a hidden sanctuary until mid-January (okay, make it March, given the winters here) in an instant, I’d teleport no matter the cost. But if I skip over the process I might as well drink again, and I’m nothing if not stubborn. The sobriety date tattooed on my back won’t change even if it kills me.
All of this sounds as though it’s hell being sober, and sometimes it is. But it’s also heaven, despite the pain, because at least now I know there will be bright spots and the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. In dark moments, I remind myself that even once I get out of this tunnel, there may be another one within spitting distance. No one ever promised sobriety would be filled with butterflies and bluebirds, but in retrospect I’m afraid that’s what I had to tell myself to walk into the rooms. Since then I’ve learned that pain is a necessary part of spiritual growth, albeit a trial by fire I wish I’d never experienced. But then I wouldn’t be me, not as I know myself today.
I wonder how I can be healthy while feeling such grief, and the answer to this riddle is that I’m only able to feel so miserable because I’ve come so far. Years ago, these wounds would be hidden, left to fester underneath, while I pretended to be healed instead of simply disguised. The blessing is not having to hide, but my grief — out in the open — is also a curse. Or, more accurately, a new discomfort I’ve never walked through.
All told, it’s just another Sunday of my life, one no more and no less difficult than any other, one that will — at some point — blend into the thousands of other Sundays of my life. It is true there are some days I will never forget — the Friday Jack died, for example, or the Saturday my first son was born — but today isn’t one of those. It just seems like it might be, because I can’t see past it right now. One day, I will.