A piece of the chorus of this Bonnie Raitt song keeps going through my head today. “River of Tears/Oceans of Heartbreak.” It is a song about a breakup of love, the rest of the lyrics don’t exactly apply, but what does, is that grief is the same whatever the loss. No matter what it may be, the pain, the longing, the “wondering what went wrong”, all whirl around like a cyclone transporting us to a new and strange land. It ain’t Kansas, and it ain’t Oz either. It is an odd parallel universe. In the sunlit universe, the one most of us spend our days in, life goes on as usual; errands have to be run, laundry washed, bills paid, the thousand and one mundane details of daily living jostle against one another for recognition. The other, darker universe that exists alongside this one is a realm of the surreal. Where clocks run in reverse, events happen out-of-order, nothing makes sense, and the unspeakable is commonplace. It doesn’t ask for recognition, it demands it.
This alternate universe has a habit of impinging on the one we all perceive. Without warning, the wormhole opens, and I am sucked into a bleak and inhospitable landscape. Hitherto hidden, it is as real as anyplace. It is a land of unanswered questions, pointless recriminations, staggering sorrow, confusion, bewilderment, and heartache. Mercifully, I am spending less time here there than I did several weeks ago, but knowing it is there, can open suddenly and unexpectedly, throws everything into a different and unsettling light. It casts a shadow on every aspect of life. I live in both universes simultaneously sometimes. Tears and laughter coexist. I smile at a memory as my eyes overflow. Talk about bi-polar.
Today is week number 10. Seventy days since Jake’s death. I feel as if I have aged 70 years in those 70 days. No wiser, but far, far sadder. Wearier. Wondering what there is for me to do. I know that there are still things left to accomplish. I am not quite sure what they are, but they are out there, unseen but no less powerful, pulling me forward. The currents bear me along, inexorably toward an unknown destination. My frail ship rudderless, at the mercy of the stormy waters. I have battened down the hatches, furled the sails, made ready for the storm. The hurricane has already passed, what’s left is the aftermath; the wormy winds that blow capriciously in every direction. Who knows what storms await? I am sure they will strike unbidden and unannounced.
So I sail on through the darkness. Down the River of Tears and across the Oceans of Heartbreak. How long the voyage will be is also a mystery. I have only to keep the ship from foundering as I make my way to that distant journey’s end.