|Rain Coming. (M.A. Reilly, 2020)|
Today there was lightning and thunder. A deep, angry rumble that signaled what had already begun somewhere else in the region. Rain falling hard. A flicker of lights. A loss of power.
Today I heard 100,000 to 200,000 people will likely die from COVID-19 here in the United States. I understand those numbers as everyone I have ever loved who has died. 200,000 moms. 200,000 dads. 200,000 husbands. 200,000 brothers and sisters. 200,000 childhood friends.
Grief alters us. Well before the coming death, we feel anticipatory grief. “The name given to the tumultuous set of feelings and reactions that occur in some people who are expecting death in a loved one. These emotions can be just as intense as the conventional sort of grief felt after a death" (from here).
In the weeks before Rob’s death as I watched him slip further from life, I was mostly terrified. I found reasons to drive alone. I can still hear myself screaming, still remember how the sound was like something wounded, something dying and it filled the whole car until out of breath the sound lessened to cries and then whimpers and breathing and finally blessed silence.
Today, we are wounded and terrified as beyond us, a wide void is opening. The incalculable loss of spouses, children, parents, siblings, friends, and of selves will fill it. A crypt we cannot name. A stone we cannot engrave.
Who I was four years ago ended in profound ways with Rob’s death. Knowing how that loss still shapes me, I find tonight that my body cannot hold the calculations of death before us.
It cannot compute the pain.
It cannot fathom the emptiness that such loss will produce.
Waves upon waves of sorrow will rain down on us.
This is the history we fail to record when mass horror happens. We simply cannot bear such burden.
Four years later, I still feel the coldness of Rob’s hand between mind. I still hear the silence that grew louder between his rattled breaths.
I still know how a heart that stops sounds.