Though the sun is out and I am not yet physically tired, I am in my pajamas, under my bed’s covers. The sunbeams that sprint across my bedroom floor are excitable and bright—so different from my current mood. I roll onto my stomach, smashing my face into my pillow’s dark silence. Thankful that my bed is warm and my blankets are soft.
What a two weeks I have had.
Actually, what a year I have had.
I never thought that managing the grief surrounding my mother’s death would be so hard, so time consuming, so revealing of my internal strengths and weaknesses. Both friends and acquaintances are quick to assure me that I’ve handled this year with patience and poise—I’m glad of their assurances and relieved that those in my community have experienced my grieving process in such a manner. For me, there isn’t a choice between being gracious as I process my big emotions through writing, and being a noticeable mass of sorrow and pain as I air my emotions out in public. I’ll always choose the former, if I can help it, for the latter is hardly a constructive way for me to live life.
In those moments when I feel deep pain and loss, I need control. The librarian in me needs to define and arrange those emotions and the writer in me needs to make sense of them. Manners and writing both have rules and expectations that are easy to follow, easy to understand. It is their structure that gives me assurance that not everything has to change in the midst of emotional upheaval.
But, it’s all so exhausting—maintaining order, wrestling with chaos.
Today is not the first afternoon that I’ve sought the solace of my pillow while daylight giddily tripped across my bedroom floor. This ritual of pajamas and blankets and bed I have practiced all year. Perhaps I should be more vexed when I am facedown in my pillow on a sunny afternoon: Yet, I cannot be. I need my pillow to remind me that yes, this year has been an emotional hell, so I’d better get some rest. I have to continue fighting the good fight when I get up again.
Any other day, I would savor the sun and its glowing warmth. I cannot take it today. I roll onto my left side, away from the sun and towards my bedroom wall. It meets my eyes with a tiny patch of paint bubbles, speckling its surface. I absently study it and think of heroes and knights craning their necks to read their destinies in the stars. Though these warriors answer to varying names like King Arthur, St. George, and Ivanhoe, we tend to tell their stories in the similar ways: The hero sets off on on a hard (but epic) mission, solves the riddles, slays the dragon / monster / enemy, saves the princess / noblewoman, marries said princess / noblewoman, and then proceeds to party hard with his bros—drinking horns and boar’s heads abounding in his castle’s great hall. And that is where the story ends. We walk with the knight through his struggles and leave him as his narrative reaches an euphoric pitch.
But what happens next?
What does the hero do when his bros are gone and his beloved is embroidering something in the solarium?
I’d like to think that he stays in bed, buries his face in his pillow, and thanks God for the momentary reprieve from life’s quests, riddles, and dragons. And in the silence, he finds the strength to get up again