the last song that i write/while still in love with you

“Before I wrote books I used to work as a chaplain at a children’s hospital, and when I was there my supervisor always used to tell me, “John, don’t just do something. Stand there.” We all want to do something to mitigate the pain of loss or to turn grief into something positive, to find a silver lining in the cloud, but I believe there is real value in just standing there, being still, being sad.” ~John Green

i’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, especially this evening. this is probably the advice i’ve wanted the least in my entire life. so often it feels wrong to me, more wrong than anything, just standing there and doing nothing. there’s such a strong instinct against doing so. against thinking, against realizing the depth of things that have happened and the consequences of grief. it feels like there are only two options, either to throw yourself into doing something, anything, the most trivial and pointless thing you can focus your attention on completely, or to break completely, to fall apart. every time the ugliness in the world makes an appearance, when you become faced with something it’s impossible to ever have not-seen again, when it becomes impossible to forget, there is always, always the question of how you keep going on, and i wonder sometimes if there is, ultimately, an answer to that question.

stand there. it’s written in ink on my wrist, and i still don’t know how to do it. how do you lose a piece of your heart and stand there and think about it and accept it? if you don’t allow yourself to try to turn grief into something positive, or just something different, whether it be anger, or hate, or numbness, what can you do with it? how can you feel it so acutely and not completely despair of hope? grief has never been anything to me besides full recognition of the brokenness, the fucked-upness of humanity. watching good people lose themselves along the way, turn into different people, watching the ones who stay strong take the punishment. i don’t understand what recovery from that is like, and yet i’m whispering to myself, be still, be still. only feel. only breathe. only stand there and only be.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “the last song that i write/while still in love with you

  1. sitting with the grief, yes, sitting with the pain…eating the tangerine of grief. (thich nhat hanh applied the analogy to unpleasant circumstances too; i forget that sometimes. he wrote to a friend in prison: “you being there is like the tangerine we shared. eat it and be one with it, for tomorrow it will be gone.”) you’re so wise. even now, in this you’re preparing for the recovery that you can’t imagine.

  2. holly’s last two sentences.
    this was really good to read.

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