A couple weeks ago, returning from a short spring break trip to central Washington, Kami, Luken, Garth and I crossed the Columbia River further east than we’ve been in ages, and so drove by Hood River where we stayed last summer with Garth’s brother, Gregg, and his family. We visited a roadside fruit stand of epic proportions that summer. We encountered the older couple who owned the surrounding fruit and nut orchards as well as the stand. The man was a gregarious, barrel-chested guy whose barrel had expanded over the years, making him, in his later years, more barrel-torso-ed. He wore a pair of enormous overalls.
Of late, I envy him his overalls. The idea of being able to expand in comfort is appealing. I suspect such expansion would show less on a person if they simply wore overalls. In fact, I wish I could justify wearing a pair to work. All the time.
When I turned 50 – almost three years ago now – I weighed about fifteen pounds – maybe even 18 pounds – less than I do now. I have gained about half of those pounds since Simone died in October. This weight has become a focal point of mine. I’d like to think I have gained weight because of the weightiness of what has occurred in our family but I don’t think it’s that simple. Truthfully, there have simply been a string of moments where I could eat a moderate amount or more than that, and I just haven’t really cared enough to do the former. Now I struggle with caring enough to do something about it. On the one hand, I am in my later middle age and that has traditionally been a time when some women plump up; I know plenty of women who plumped up and I don’t think any less of them. On the other hand, eight weeks ago I saw a movie in which dancing figured, and I longed to feel once again what it was like to have a body less bound by gravity.
Grief is a changeable thing. It no longer catches us by surprise as it used to. It has moved in with us. We wade through it as we go from room to room. It is everywhere at all times. We are heavy with it.
You hit just the right note, Katrina. Well done! Jane
I just had a chance to read your post. This is truly beautiful. I’m not sure I have ever heard grief placed in this specific context but your merging of the tangible and intangible is seamless and so accurate with respect to my own experiences, and so moving.
Have you ever read “The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy? At one point, she describes the ruins of a house as “A History-hole. A History-shaped Hole in the Universe”. When we lost my aunt, Paoli, a year ago, I found that that this imagery resonated strongly with my experience of her loss; it so aptly described the acute realization that all we could do was to fill the Paoli shaped hole in the universe with our memories of her and our grief that that was all that was left. In the months after her death, and after Simone’s (which I admittedly experienced so distantly relative to your experience), the acuity decreased but what is left has been dull; it is heavy; it is persistent. It is exactly what you have described. I just wanted to let you know that I am grateful to you for sharing your metaphor and the physicality of your experience. Somehow it helps to have new ways to describe and process these visceral, elusive, unpredictable, ever-changing emotions.
I hope you–all of you–are doing alright.
With love, Eliza
Dear Katrina, I have also just now taken this hole in time to ready your post. I also just loved it. Grief is
as repressed in this culture as beauty (sacrificed to efficiency and the bottom line). So, along with what Eliza and Jane said about the physicality of grieving, the re-calibrating of our emotional landscape, the sense of being captured, I appreciate so much being companied, as I am reading your experience, as I miss entire worlds that have disappeared in those Holes in the fabric of the Universe Thank you for your kind thoughtful reflections on yourself and life. Love, dee