It is getting easier. My heart is lightening in the smallest of increments. My thoughts scatter still, in the darkest hours, but they scatter less wildly. Less and less madly.
It is true, then, that the nights retract. That the breath comes back like the ocean, like the moon. It is true that time is the only way through, that the only gentling is in the accumulation of the moments, the minutes, the hours.
Did I write, before, that we work in the same office? That five days a week, I sit and hurt in his line of sight? I loved him, I think. And, He is no longer mine. I also think, He lies, and, I know this is right. But of course it still hurts. His pressed white shirts, his voice, his smile – fistfuls of salt rubbed into a hundred cuts.
I wore the grief like a hairshirt at first. I smiled and smiled but underneath, the self-flagellation itched and burned. I looked at photos, I returned to the same memories over and over, a tongue poking at a bad tooth. Worse, I let myself imagine. I gave weight to rumours, shaped ghosts from the air. A woman, gold-skinned, swimming in his sheets. Another hanging like a jewel from his arm. Pin-thin heels. Elaborate hair.
There is truth in the gossip, I think. Regardless, it matters less now. It was my decision to end things; I hold tightly to that. It is a stone rolled smooth by the sea, made warm in m y palms. It comforts me. To know that I have that kind of strength. To end something I knew wasn’t working, wasn’t healthy, even though I loved him, even though I knew I would miss so much. There is a lot to be said for that.
Love songs still bruise. I still look away from lovers in the street, knotted at the hand, their smiles strung between them like a ribbon on a gift. But the lump in my throat is dissolving. My mouth no longer tastes of salt and regret.
There is a reason things happen. A rhythm beneath each experience. And it's not always clear. Not in the aftermath of something, the churn in the wake of a failed love affair, a death, some other kind of grief. But there is always something we can learn. There is always a lesson. It’s up to us whether we choose to take it, or whether we shut ourselves off from the hurt, close like a hedgehog over our softness, our terrible tenderness.
I’ve had my hibernation. My tiny sleep. I'm ready to be open again. I'm ready to creep back into the fray. The wonderful, horrible, usual, sensual, marvellous, awful, magical fray.