Seamus Heaney, in his poem, "St. Kevin and The Blackbird" asks us to consider the space between being self-forgetful and being self-sacrificial as is the choice St. Kevin confronts when his outstretched hand becomes a roost for blackbirds.
I know Kevin's pain. There he stands, stiff as a cross beam--half of this life. Half not.
At first grief is muscular--much like the agony St. Kevin's body comes to know as he stands through weeks of sun and rain with his arm out stretched. In the first few months after Rob's death, I walked 6 to 7 miles each day. I felt better being among the trees, tasting the earth and dirt, and wind and rain. I needed the bigness beyond me to fill what had become so very empty. I sought bone deep exhaustion.
Later, grief became more ethereal--a here now and then gone and could it be, I wondered, had I worked myself through Rob's passing? Then came a reign of firsts: our birthdays, Christmas, wedding anniversary and New Years all rolled into 6 weeks. Then grief was dogmatic--asserting the simple truth the bereavement knows no clock.
It asserted this with a force that fell knees to ground.
Now, I know glad moments, days that stretch out with some satisfaction and days that are tinged with a sadness I suspect I'll always carry. Losing a love is the very definition of being out of time. Nothing syncs even as the earth turns, rivers flow and birds alight.
Now, there's distance in my head and I know what it means to forget: self, bird, and the river's name.