Nude Woman and Grief by x1klima CEMETERIE, Engesohde, Hannover, Germany,Sony a7R, Sonar FE 55mm F1.8 ZA. Flickr. Creative Commons License.
- The cab arrived shortly after 10:30 PM.
- I’ve never seen an airport so desolate. The security checkpoint does not open until midnight. I sit on my duffel bag, knees questioning the ceiling; for a moment I consider what is happening, what have I done. Suddenly, hundreds of people are walking by, shoes clacking, squeaking. A black man walks by, turns and asks me if I’m okay. I say yes. He says, are you sure. I say yes again. No one speaks to me after that.
- Susan Sontag asks, “What does it mean to protest suffering, as distinct from acknowledging it?” She considers Christian martyrs and art. I consider my friend and lover: where does his suffering rest in the history of art? How can I be so cruel as not to understand his personal image of sadness?
- If I look at the call record on my phone I can identify the moment my overwhelming selfishness revealed itself. I am jealous of a woman I have never met. He grieves deeply and I am a cunt.
- Before irrationality there is no decision-making.
Thomas Eakins Carrying a Woman, 1885. Scan from art book. Click on link for permission information.
6. Grief is injurious, inflicting pain and suffering. I do not understand the facility of loss outside my own experience. How an unseeable place within the body and mind is overwhelmed by what he calls “indescribable sadness.” I am leaning against the woodblock island when he says these words aloud, when his eyes pool and at once I think I understand. I want to hold him but I can’t move. A few days later I realize I know nothing.
7. “The practice of representing atrocious suffering as something to be deplored, and, if possible, stopped, enters the history of images with a specific subject: the sufferings endured by a civilian population at the hands of a victorious army on the rampage.” What if that army is one? What if I am the army? How can I stop myself from doing more damage?
8. In the 14th century sadness meant “Dignity, importance.” I wonder how this term evolved from self-respect to sorrow.
9. The morning after textual combat I call my doctor. The week before, I doubled the pills and then took only one followed by two days of none. Then I request a therapist. I need to figure out why I do what I do. I read Kubler-Ross, try to gain understanding on his sadness.
10. “Trying to control the uncontrollable ultimately becomes a living hell, and grief has a way of amplifying everything and making people slaves to their own behavior.”
11. I have no sense of control. He is right about many things.
12. I love kissing him. I like our sex. My right breast is bruised with finger marks and I am pleased. Sometimes this is all I want because I don’t know how to be. I do yard work, cook, wash dishes, fold his laundry. He takes nothing for granted. He is sweet. I do these things because I don’t know how else to help him and doing something is better than nothing at all. And then I vandalize. Leave and say mean things. I invent a safe word and this is the one thing I know is unnecessary because I triggered the firing pin. I am scared. I think I am powerful but I am weak.
13. I repeatedly apologize. I know the damage is done. I cannot take back what I did or said. I make every attempt to connect, and push him further away. I fear writing this will make things worse. I am so sorry. I don’t understand why I do what I do. I will try to be a better person, give you the respect you deserve. Respect your sadness. “Is there an antidote to the perennial seductiveness of war? And is this a question a woman is more likely to ask than a man? (Probably yes.)”
Kubler-Ross, Elizabeth MD & David Kessler. On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss. NY: Scribner, 2005. Print.
“sadness, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, December 2016. Web. 9 February 2017.
Sontag, Susan. Regarding the Pain of Others. NY: Picador, 2003. Print.