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:
"...love 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.