The winds whip up, the rains beat against the house. Sometimes it sounds like a freight train. Our house on stilts is vulnerable, bending in the wind, shuddering with every blast. Just a short time before, it was a gentle rain fooling me, baiting me, leading me into complacency. But like seeing the light of a freight engine before it rounds the bend, it seems so far away, so harmless.
The day before is always calm. The air is hot and heavy. Quiet—too quiet, the cliché would say. And after a turbulent night, the quiet returns. As I look around, I see branches, trash cans and a seldom tree trunk out of place. My tires crunch the leaves and twigs as I survey the damage. It appears we dodged another one yet again.
My grief can take a similar form, I think. Eerily quiet just the day before. Uncomfortable in the calm, I busy myself with putting away stuff that never really mattered. I realize my accumulation of wealth is a collection of weight holding me back, distracting me from life, cluttering my days. But I work fervently to keep my clutter from being another man’s projectile. I fill my gas tank, I start up my generator.
Then I watch other people’s misery on TV. I feel for them, I think, but I don’t really know their pain. I just know I don’t want to be them and make up reasons why I am different. I chose to live somewhere else; I bought a stronger house, I took precautions.
Thing is, hurricanes and grief don’t really care much about all of that. They just blow, that’s what they do.
In the middle of the blow I may wake up, all alone in the dark, my imagination of being blown away seeps in. I check the windows, maybe. Maybe I fall back asleep. But the winds still beat at my door, the rain pelts my glass, the storm still surges. Then nothing.
The third phase—the Nothing Phase, the longest one, the expensive one. It’s the one that tires you out, makes you think about giving up, moving, doing something different. The one that lasts the longest. What some call the cleanup, what others call life. What I call work. I come out of my house thankful but I can’t help asking why? Why him? Why not me?
Why doesn’t really matter either. So, I pick up my phone and I reach out. Maybe someone else needs to know they are not alone.
Just like grief.
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