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Picking Up the Pieces

Sometimes it takes darkness and the
sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn
anything and anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.
– David Whyte, Sweet Darkness

I woke up in the middle of the night thinking of Todd Rundgren’s Hello It’s Me and hearing it anew in my head. It’s always been a breakup song, that part is easy. But what I didn’t hear, not really hear, is the background singers rising chorus of “think of me” as Rundgren stops singing and the band reaches a crescendo accompanying the singing. At the end all that’s left is the band abruptly stopping, and all that’s left is a quiet, uncertain “think of me“.

And then I understood grief and loss a bit better than I had before.

It’s always been there, lingering behind the brave front and the moving on and the figuring things out. The feeling of abandonment in breaking up with someone, or losing someone who had a gravitational pull that compelled you to orbit them for what seemed a blissful forever. That person literally brought you alive and changed you forever. Until the spell was broken in loss. Until your identity was shattered in a moment.

I heard it in my mother’s voice and in my own anger when a repaired grandfather clock broke apart again, betraying us and our memories in its fragility. I saw it in my wife’s welling eyes when a song that reminds her of her sister comes up on the playlist. I’ve heard it in countless voices over the last year. I’ve seen it in eyes locked in on my own above masks that hide everything but the reality of what is missing. Now and forever.

Son sometimes it may seem dark
But the absence of the light is a necessary part
Just know, that you’re never alone
You can always come back home
– Jason Mraz, 93 Million Miles

I grieve for the grief of others while holding my own close to the vest, where it leaks out in unguarded moments. Forever moving on, without really getting away from the missing part. Now and then it catches you in a broken grandfather clock and you know you can’t pick up all the pieces. All you can do is try to put it together again as best you can.

And know that you’re never alone.

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