Grief comes in the night with the most sinister of intentions
His arsenal does not include swords, guns, or artillery
He is equipped only with one item – a gigantic apple corer
He descends upon you suddenly
Expressionless. Vacant. Sadistic
With one unfeeling sweep he thrusts the corer through your centre
This is not a mortal wound. The human body can survive it. But it is never the same. Though the edges of the wound may heal over with time, the victim is forced to live with the remaining hole
It is a black void of loss that is eternal
Grief is a merciless soul catcher
He never goes away. He is always there
He may shift and transform himself. But he remains. He is a permanent fixture … a slick of oil on your shoe
Grief creeps into your being like grey tar, snuffing out any flicker of light
He is combative, yet he does not engage you directly after he has taken your core. He prefers to encourage the most primal, disgusting, and unwelcome parts of yourself to arise and consume you
His method is torture, though he does not inflict it directly
He forces you to do it to yourself … with regret, doubt, loss and vulnerability
Grief shows you everything you once had in a brilliant room of sparkles and magic
He shows you happy times
He shows you all this through a doorway
But when you try to go in you realise there is glass in the way – glass that you cannot penetrate
You are not allowed to enter
You forlornly go to walk away from that glimmer of your former life, but Grief will not allow this either
Instead he smashes your face against the glass and holds it there
He forces you to forever gaze upon what you can never have again
Last night I dreamt a cruel dream that I had it all. I had my beautiful August. I had my adoring Ross. We were all happy and healthy. I had this precious house – the monumental remains of my ancestors. And I had my mother. I had it all, and it was so perfect. I could taste the perfection of life. This is something that you do not want to wake up from. It is a sinister trick, born out of Grief’s sadistic need to keep himself amused.
I still have vicious nightmares, but they take a different form now. The other night I dreamt that mum and I were at the IGA in Padbury, doing our regular shop. I suddenly realised, with a sinking grotesque feeling, that I had left August at home by himself.
I grabbed mum’s arm and said, ‘Oh my god! I left August at home, quick we have to go now!’
Mum stared at me vacantly, and continued to peruse the shelves. I grabbed her arm more forcefully, and tried to turn her to face me. I repeated what I had said, trying to get her to understand the gravity of the situation. ‘We have to go now!’ I screeched, desperate to get home.
With an irritated nonchalance, she let me drag her away from the shelves, and we went to the cash register. I protested that there was no time to actually buy any stuff, but she wouldn’t listen. I stood at the end of the cash register, drumming my fingers as the annoyance and fear grew in me. Finally she gathered her bags and followed me out to the car. I kept turning around, telling her to hurry, but she was in no rush as she ambled to the car.
Then I was driving down a country road, in the middle of nowhere. I was becoming frantic as I drove faster. It was such a long way to get to my house, and mum was continuing to annoy me by being completely unperturbed. After a while, as I sped through the endless fields, she started to register that I was worried, and said, ‘I’m sure he’ll be fine darling’.
I ignored her and drove on, until we got to a giant rocky mountainous landscape. I knew we had to go on foot from here, as my house was right at the very top of the mountain. I slammed on the breaks and dove out of the car. I had already begun running up to the dirt track that led up the mountain, when I realised she wasn’t beside me. I turned and said, ‘Hurry up!’ She extracted herself from the car and started to jog after me.
I started to force my way up the track, pushing branches and brambles out of my way. I kept looking behind, and screeching at mum to hurry up. The terrain was steadily getting steeper and denser, and subsequently more difficult to negotiate. But I was absolutely desperate to get up to my son. I came to a sheer piece of cliff. It was only a small climb, so I wasn’t too worried. I looked back, as I put my foot on the cliff, and saw that mum had stopped dead. I took my foot off the rock and turned to face her. ‘What’s wrong? Come on, we have to hurry!’
She just looked at the cliff, and then into my eyes, and said, ‘I can’t go any further’.
I paused for a moment, panting, and considered arguing. It was a moment of indecision. I quickly realised that she was serious and I had to go on alone. Our eyes met, and we silently acknowledged that I must journey on alone. I didn’t want to leave her, but I had to get up to my son as soon as possible. Taking one last hesitant look at her, I turned and scampered up the cliff. I began to run, full pelt, until I suddenly realised that I didn’t have the keys. I skidded to a stop, then ran back to the edge of the cliff, ‘Mum, the keys!!!’ I screamed.
She got them out of her pocket, and threw them up to me. I caught them in my hand, turned and ran, as fast as humanely possible, up the rest of the arduous path. Finally my house came into focus – it wasn’t actually my real house, but it was my house in the dream. It was shrouded in dense forest, and glass doors wrapped all around the front. As I drew closer, I saw that August was playing happily with his toys on the floor. I breathed the deepest sigh of relief in my entire life, one that will never be matched …
Remarkable how vivid that dream is in my mind, even now. She threw me the keys that unlocked my future … she threw me up the keys … even though she knew she herself could not go on …