Sunday, May 31, 2009

Show & Tell: Purple Gorilla

This week's Show and Tell will be a little different. I came upon this poem from Beautiful Mess. She posted about it awhile ago, but I never really appreciated her blog until I read her post about her blogoversary. She wrote about how she never expected her blog to be about grief and her mom dying, but that's what ended up happening. I wanted to skip over my blogoversary, which was last Sunday, because I didn't want to dwell on how much pain and grief I had written about over the last year. When I read Beautiful Mess' post, I was glad that someone else was writing about grief too. I didn't feel so alone. I, too, never thought I would write so much about trauma and grief this last year. Heck, I didn't even really know what trauma was, and I never really had to face grief the way I've faced it in the last year and last couple of months.

Beautiful Mess e-mailed me this poem, so I'd like to share it with you too. I cried when I read this.

by Matthew Dickman May 5, 2008

When grief comes to you as a purple gorilla
you must count yourself lucky.
You must offer her what’s left
of your dinner, the book you were trying to finish
you must put aside,
and make her a place to sit at the foot of your bed,
her eyes moving from the clock
to the television and back again.
I am not afraid. She has been here before
and now I can recognize her gait
as she approaches the house.
Some nights, when I know she’s coming,
I unlock the door, lie down on my back,
and count her steps
from the street to the porch.
Tonight she brings a pencil and a ream of paper,
tells me to write down
everyone I have ever known,
and we separate them between the living and the dead
so she can pick each name at random.
I play her favorite Willie Nelson album
because she misses Texas
but I don’t ask why.
She hums a little,
the way my brother does when he gardens.
We sit for an hour
while she tells me how unreasonable I’ve been,
crying in the checkout line,
refusing to eat, refusing to shower,
all the smoking and all the drinking.
Eventually she puts one of her heavy
purple arms around me, leans
her head against mine,
and all of a sudden things are feeling romantic.
So I tell her,
things are feeling romantic.
She pulls another name, this time
from the dead,
and turns to me in that way that parents do
so you feel embarrassed or ashamed of something.
Romantic? she says,
reading the name out loud, slowly,
so I am aware of each syllable, each vowel
wrapping around the bones like new muscle,
the sound of that person’s body
and how reckless it is,
how careless that his name is in one pile and not the other.

My purple gorilla came to me again Friday night. I was thinking about all the physical things I am doing to get ready for another "mission impossible" IVF cycle. The one thing I haven't been doing is communicating with my spirit baby. I haven't talked here lately about it, because I cry everytime I think about it. I don't want to talk to my spirit baby, because I am afraid. I am afraid of being heartbroken again. The truth is, I'm so sad she didn't come. It's not a guilt trip on her or anything. It's how I feel. I fell in love with her. It's like she died.

When I went to the "Gifts of Grief" movie a couple of weeks ago, I talked about how I didn't think there was anything good about grief. The moviemaker asked me, "who died?" I was dumbstruck. How do you talk about someone dying who never existed? I just said, "it's complicated." I didn't think the moviemaker, or anyone else in the audience, would understand. She experienced the grief of losing her father whom she was very close to. I didn't understand my grief at losing someone I didn't even know. I found that part of me was embarrassed and ashamed.

I checked out a book from my library about grief. Although I had heard this before, it really stuck me when I read the words on the page:

" and grief are inextricably intertwined - to love is always to open oneself to the grief of loss"

I loved my spirit baby. She may still be around, but I don't know. I know she has been with me a long time. Years, I think. I've been too afraid to reach out to her. If she's really gone, well, I can't really go there right now. A part of me hopes, but the grief, it still comes like the purple gorilla.


JJ said...

Such a beautiful post, Phoebe...sending you peaceful thoughts for you and your spirit baby.

Lavender Luz said...

There is nothing to be ashamed of. You love someone who is real to you, someone who is not manifesting where you are. That is a loss and you are feeling it as a loss.

I think I get it. For me, when the spirit that I was sure I was carrying after our 1 IVF decided not to show, I was dumbstruck. The betrayal existed alongside the grief, even though they are not very similar emotions.

I wish I'd had the purple gorilla poem then.

Hugs, Phoebe.

Kristin said...

What a honest heart wrenching post. I loved that poem when Beautiful Mess posted it and I still love it. Your grief is nothing to be ashamed of. It is real and it is something you are going through. Lots of {{{{{hugs}}}}}.

Beautiful Mess said...

I don't think I'll EVER get tired of read that poem. It makes more and more sense to me every time I read it. I just love it! I'm glad that my writing was able to help you. Please don't EVER be ashamed to write about grief. if it's real to you then it's real! These are your feelings and your feelings belong to you. Nobody can tell you if they're right or wrong.

I'll do anything I can to help you through what you're going through. We can help each other! I'm hoping and wishing you have a GREAT and peaceful day!

'Murgdan' said...

Love this. Thanks for sharing it.

Emmy said...

I love the purple gorilla poem.

I understand you not wanting to share with the filmmaker. You never know what kind of comments you may get.

Grief is an interesting beast!

The Muser (aka Beautiful Mama) said...

Beautiful post, Phoebe, and beautiful poem. It makes total sense to me that you're grieving. This is a huge loss and on top of the uncertainty about IVF and the trauma and other losses you've survived this year, how could you not be hurting terribly. Hugs and hugs and peaceful wishes.

WiseGuy said...

I remember this poem on D's blog...the purple gorilla!

Never think much about whether your grief is real or not. If you felt it, it is genuine. And express it. The grief does not lessen at all, but you can get support for it. Also, the venting will make you feel that there is somebody listening...

Blossom and Her Fruit said...

I am so sad. Thanks for putting me in touch with a lot of the fear and grief I carry with me.

I hope you can hold your spirit baby in the flesh soon...

Sweet Georgia said...


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Duck said...

it is hard to go down that road again - to reach out -what is shes there - what if shes not - what if shes angry or sad. it is confusing, but i get it, no one can understand the grief we feel of loosing someone 8 cells in size. thanks for sharing.

Clio said...

I love this poem. I had also seen it on her blog. I should print it out and put in some sort of keepsake box...
Your loss is no less important because the spirit you saw was not "alive" in our earthly sense. We all grieve deeply the loss of ideas, the burying of projects and dreams. All of those are as real as they can be, just like a person. So a spirit that you got to know and wait for... takes just as much grief. I have a friend who was constantly visited by a spirit baby who wanted to come through her. But this will not be possible in this lifetime, so she mourns this loss. And it's taking her a few years to come to terms with her decision.

DAVs said...

Such a nice heartfelt post. Don't ever feel ashamed for your grief. I am just so sad that there is so much sadness in all of this. Some days it feels like it never ends.