My Grandpa Melvin used to say, If it’s not one thing, then it’s another. It’s a common saying–one I cannot truly attribute to him. But, I like to imagine him saying this oft-used quotable, because I loved him and I can picture him doing so with a goofy grin and good-humour. Maybe even with a bit of puckish appreciation for the absurd and ludicrous.
I’ve tended to view this observation of life as linear, like all the shitty things that might and will knock you around are all waiting in a nice, orderly queue. Shitty Thing A happens, you manage through it with grace or strife, and then Shitty Thing B happens, and so on, ad infinitum et nauseam.
If we add a few more adages to the pile, I suspect we get a clearer picture of the human experience: It’s either feast or famine, When it rains it pours, Shit happens. (My mother used to own a keychain with that last pithy expression. It’s a ’90s thing.)
If the Fates are kind, we get some breaks between the shitty things–times that infuse us with enough hope and happiness so we’re better armoured to battle the shit when it flies.
Or, we’re Oedipus.
The point is, I think, the first adage, that motto of Grandpa Melvin, is pretty decent, and my interpretation, when repositioned, could be dead-on:
If it’s not one thing, then it’s another. So, take care of that one thing, and after that, the other.
She throws the worst surprise parties.
I mean, you have to give her credit–she knows how to ambush.
But, all tears and no cake do not a happy party make.
Grief is emotional herpes.
The first outbreak is terrible. You’ll never forget it.
As time passes, the outbreaks lessen.
Though, you might need a pill to keep them at bay.
Grief is a thing you must experience when you face loss.
But, no one can tell you what exactly grief is, or how to do it properly.
Grief is not a feeling. (“How are you today?” Alright, I’m just a little grief.)
But, grief causes feelings.
Is grief an action? A verb? (“I am grieving.” “I grieve.”)
Such a tiny word that means nothing and everything.
If every action requires an equal and opposite reaction,
then grief is the reaction to loss.
It is the thunderous blowback from a sudden absence in space and time.
Grief is a many-tentacled beastie who trolls the murky depths of your subconscious.
If it surfaces, watch out and hit the deck!
Grief is Death’s bedfellow–
a sultry seductress who enters the hospital room at Death’s side.
He aims for his target, and she claims those left behind.
Her silk-gloved finger lovingly traces the tears as they fall down your cheek.
Grief is a greedy, hungry creature.
It gluts itself on your many losses.
Death, in its literal form, is not enough.
It sucks the marrow from all the little deaths.
The divorce, the dreams diminished, the woulds and shoulds all make for Grief’s buffet.
Inevitably, eventually Grief retreats from whence it came.
You share a nod and a smile, knowing you’ll meet again.