Grappling with grief

Sometimes I get this feeling. It starts in my chest and it drops to my stomach and goes down to my toes. It feels like my heart is leaving my body, and I get shivers that give me chills all over. It started when I learned that one of my closest friends, a person I had known since I was nine, had died. It kept happening over and over again the days after. She died in mid August, and after that I had this sick feeling constantly — no breaks, just over and over again. Like I’m going to puke. So when I go about my days feeling my heartbeat in my chest, all I can think is, How can someone I loved so much be gone?

The next thing that comes to mind is, How the fuck am I going to do this? How am I going to go to school and sit in class and not completely fall apart? I had no idea. It would take weeks and a lot of thinking to find an answer. Grief doesn’t go away quickly. Moving on doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and effort and is incredibly difficult when you have responsibilities like school.

“Moving on doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and effort and is incredibly difficult when you have responsibilities like school.

I got the call that my friend died four days before school started. I got up on the first day of school and willed myself to go. I was exhausted from crying for three days, and going to the first day felt like an afterthought. I cried my whole drive to school, and was only able to go to my counselors office before I decided to go home. 

The next day I couldn’t go to school at all, but the following day my parents were pushing me to go back, so I went. When I arrived at school I told my first teacher that I missed the last two days because my dearest friend had passed. He was sympathetic and nice, but I didn’t really care; I didn’t care about anything. 

I noticed something funny that Friday morning on the third day of school. I didn’t actually feel anything. When I told all my teachers that I had lost someone, I didn’t cry. I mean I got teary eyed, but they weren’t the heavy sobs I had come to expect. I have never wanted to cry so badly in my life. I wanted to feel her presence, I wanted to feel my sadness, and I wanted to remember her and feel something. But, I just couldn’t feel anything. I knew I was sad and I knew I was hurting — I felt physically sick all the time — but I just couldn’t feel it. So I walked around for the next six days feeling absolutely nothing. 

The next Thursday, after feeling nothing for six days, I finally felt something. The feeling I had was… shit. I felt like shit. It felt like my whole body had been run over by a bus and my brain had been run through a meat grinder. I decided to go talk to someone at the wellness center. I ended up crying in a little office for the first time in six days. I liked crying, I had missed the feeling it gave me. I cried so much that I decided to just go home, so I left school at 11. But, I felt like it wasn’t time for me to go home yet. 

I was driving past Ocean Beach when I felt a strong urge to pull over. My friend loved the beach. I felt closer to her there. I started to walk down the shore, and I accidentally got my shoes and ankles wet. I thought it was her telling me she missed me, telling me she wanted to see me. I took my wet shoes and socks off, took my jacket off, put away my headphones, and put my phone down. As I looked at the water I remembered all the days we had spent at the beach together. Remembering all these times, I felt like I could just see or hear her laughing in the water. And so, I thought, fuck it, I’ll just go get her.  

“I wanted to feel my sadness, and I wanted to remember her and feel something. But, I just couldn’t feel anything.

I put one foot in front of the other as I walked in to find her. The water was cold. I could feel how cold it made me. I stood there waist-deep in the ocean in my jeans and shirt, and I called for her. I felt the tide pulling me, I felt the sand on my feet, I felt the tears on my face. It’s time to get out, I said to myself. She’s not gonna come with you

I could feel my life falling apart; I could see everything I was excited for, everything I had worked for, all coming down around me. All I could do was watch, I was too tired to fight or get myself up. So I watched and I felt as everything was crumbling around me. I could see my grades dropping. I had to drop AP Statistics. I could see my Personal Insight Questions going unanswered. I could see people doing all these things, accomplishing all their goals, doing what I wasn’t able to do. I was left asking myself,  How do I move on? How do I go forward? How do I fix this?

I know I can’t bring her back. I know I can’t make her family feel better. I know I can’t make myself feel better. However, I also know that the only thing I can do is move forward. Everyday that passes I move forward. It doesn’t hurt any less, it doesn’t feel better, it doesn’t feel good. But, most days I smile and I laugh and, of course, I cry. Tomorrow the sun will come up, the sun will go down, and I will still be here, loving her.