Deep inside me lies a vast but secret wilderness
Only I have explored, mostly while stumbling around
In the dark, late at night when most people are asleep.
I close my eyes and wander through a black tangle of thought,
A silent observer, studying my surroundings so keenly so that
By now, I know this place like the back of my hand:
It is somewhere I visit often,
More often than I’m willing to admit to most people,
Because, each time someone asks why I look down, why I look distracted,
I tell them I am contemplating my grief, and I am met
With skeptical eyes, pained expressions, and the words,
“How can you be sad if you have it all:
A car, a job, friends, family, food to eat, a place to live?”
I argue that I said I was grieving, not being ungrateful,
And yes my grief does make me sad sometimes.
But this often makes things worse, because thinking of the things I have
Only fills me with guilt for mourning what has been lost,
And even sometimes convinces me that maybe I really do not have a reason
To feel this, to feel like this,
But only until the next time I find myself staring off into the sky,
But only until the next time I find myself in bed wide awake at 3am,
But only until the next time I find myself blinking back tears,
Forlornly contemplating a friend’s dying child, my own childhood brush with death;
A lover’s absence, a friend’s silence;
My jealously of a colleague, my indifference toward a family member;
A species going extinct, an ocean strewn with plastic;
Bombs exploding in continents far away, a deadly car crash just a few blocks from home;
Women being raped, men being shot;
Money being wasted by addicts on drugs and booze while they starve themselves to feed their habits, money being stolen and stuffed into the pockets of powerful people who make rules that benefit only the wealthy few.
My suspicions are confirmed:
I do have reasons to grieve.
There are so many specters of loss that haunt the wilderness inside me,
And to date I have been unable to eradicate them, shoo them away.
And I am coming to terms with the fact that perhaps I never will,
That maybe my grief will forever loom in the shadows,
Waiting for me to confront it, to endure what it wants me to feel,
Following me, reminding me that
The opposite of loss is not gain, it is presence;
The opposite of grief is not happiness, it is love.
I am present, I have love,
Therefore, I grieve.