The Five Stages of Grief: Acceptance

On the day everything began to feel okay again, I felt like an ice sculpture slowly starting to melt.

That morning I’d said goodbye to a dear friend after a too-brief visit. She’d given me a pep-talk in only the way she knows how, in that I actually listened and didn’t get angry at the idea of having to go on with my life and be happy. At the bottom of my stairs, she’d ducked her head down for one last look at me. I read her expression as I had so many times before – the one that says I love you Panda. It’s okay. It will be, really. I was weeping before I’d even closed the door.

I crouched down in my hallway and cried, something that didn’t even seem dramatic and unusual anymore. I took some deep breaths. My first clue that something was changing was that I didn’t immediately walk to the fridge and pour myself a glass of prosecco. Instead I got up, wiped my eyes, and decided to go on a jog.

First I made breakfast – something to burn – and as I sliced and toasted a baguette, covered it with goat cheese and an egg, I felt the usual loss of no longer having him there to perform such a simple task with. I pictured him coming around the corner still covered in sleep, rubbing his eyes, touching my shoulder, saying “morning.” Me saying “hey baby” with a dirty-mouthed kiss, then “can you pick some basil for this?”

But this time, before it went too far, I shrugged off the depth of it as it tried to overtake me, and I sat and ate with a clearer understanding of my current circumstances. I knew that it wasn’t coming back. For two months solid, every day, I’d been thinking that maybe it could. And so I thought, okay. Okay then – so here I am.

While jogging I felt like my legs were made of oak tree stumps and yet every time I thought I’d cool down and walk, I’d think I may as well keep going. It’s going to hurt no matter what, I may as well just keep moving forward. And so I would keep going.

Afterward, I came home, showered, lay on my bed. The day before, I’d bought some flowers, and their sweet smell filled my bedroom. I felt a calmness come over me. I took note of my body, its changes. I touched it and remembered it.

I wasn’t quite there yet, but I was getting closer.

When I picked up my kids from school we stopped by the nursery, where I bought a small jasmine vine. My daughter helped me plant it when we got home, and we tended to other things that needed attention. We gave the forget-me-not she’s growing a bigger pot and fashioned a bamboo arch for the nasturtium to climb. When we were finished she swept and I sat back with a tall glass of water, thrilling at the smell. Jasmine is my favorite scent – instant happiness – but I could never plant it before because my lover was allergic.

I made a late lunch and then took my son to an appointment and my daughter to the library, where I rented some movies and then promptly then fell asleep on the couch in the children’s room. I hadn’t been sleeping well over the past months. Waking with a start after probably only a few seconds of public sleep, I laughed out loud and shook my head. My girl smiled at me from across the room.

That evening, my kids gone to a sleepover, I had every intention of laying in bed watching a movie, then going to sleep. I felt for the first time in two months like I could finally get a decent night’s rest. But there was a lightness in me – an unfamiliar buoyancy. So I put on my shoes and my old Powell’s hoodie, plugged Paul Simon’s Graceland in and went out for an evening walk. I noticed a bounce in my step. There was the faintest hint of a smile on my lips. I made eye contact with people and animals that I passed, nodding hello and moving on. I did a quick loop of downtown and then headed back home.

Making my way under the trees, past gardens, touching tall wheatlike grasses and drooping flowers along the way, I thought Oh, right. I smiled and breathed it all in. Now I remember. It all really will be okay. How funny that I forgot.

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