They say there are stages of grief,
as if in our grieving we are actors in a play.
If only there truly were a script to work from, so that when we reach the end of Act III
the curtain falls and we exit, stage right, with our grief left behind upon the boards.
Instead, we stumble from one stage to the next
blinded temporarily each time by the glaring spotlights that illuminate each.
There are no cheers or standing ovations for our performances as functioning human being,
as grieving friend, as heartbroken widow or widower, as inconsolable parent.
There is only the absolute silence after the lights have dimmed, and the crowds have gone home.
The deafening, echoing silence of a voice we won’t hear again,
a laugh we would trade anything in the world to hear fill the house once more.
What does the actor do when done with the stage?
How do they leave the play behind, set aside the words and move on to the next show?
I find I remain frozen upon the stage, lights dimmed, seats empty,
words fallen silent, at a loss for anything to say that can heal or revive.
I do the only thing left to me.
I sit on the edge of the stage, feet dangling, swinging.
My feet, at least, free of the stage.
So, I let them swing, reveling in the feeling of even a small part of me being free,
and ignoring the twinge of guilt that sense of freedom brings.
Suddenly a spotlight springs to life, illuminating a circle of light behind me.
There, within a crisp, clear, perfectly-formed circle of light stands my grief.
My cry of anguish the moment I heard the news, each tear that I shed, each truth I denied, each shout aimed at the sky and at you, each fear I wouldn’t utter or face, each moment of aching loneliness, each moment of complete confusion about what to do next and how to go on, even each thought of not going on, but also each joyful memory of love and laughter shared,
all gathered together in that beam of light.
My loss taken form at the end of an unscripted Act IV.
No soliloquy, no accolades, no stellar reviews.
Just my grief revealed in the light.
Revealing also, grief has a life of its own.
Finally, I leave the stage.