sometimes it steals up on me, like that six-foot rugby chick from my misspent youth, the one with the steel cleats and the hamhock legs. out of the corner of my eye, i catch a glimpse, a shadow…and then WHUMPH. she hits me like a train.

i’ve been hit enough times to know what’s happening, but by the time i figure it out, i’m already flat on my back, dazed.

grief sneaks up on you long after you think you’re done.

the sadness is quieter now than before, harder to recognize. the steel cleats that shredded me have been traded in for ballet shoes, blunt and hard yet graceful, somehow. still, it feels like being trodden on, ground under. i try to acquiesce, go limp, play dead…long for twenty-four hours to simply lie on my couch and breathe, to come to terms with this ever-morphing, gruelling visitation. but there is no sanctuary, no retreat…either from grieving or from living. and so, quietly wretched, stretched between despair and normalcy, my fuse grows short…even the simplest things overwhelm me. can you not see i’m busy here? i want to shout to my sinkful of dishes, my dirty sock pile, my beautiful, living, demanding, non-sleeping children. can you not see this weight perched on my chest? can’t you see that i am not okay?!?

but i am pinned under, and my voice does not carry. grief beats out a merry rhythm about my head, brutalizing and relentless. all is grey.

a year since the ultrasound said blighted ovum. a son whose traces i can no longer feel, connect to. an emptiness i am still bewildered by, after all this time. November again. so much promise lost, so many expectations adjusted. and yet, and yet…so many blessings, so much busy-ness. i believe myself healed. almost always, i feel it. but oh, when i don’t, when old grief sidles up by surprise and takes me out at the knees, i lose my bearings. i get scared, fear she’s brought friends, and luggage. i panic.

in my very first-ever rugby game, the only team sport i ever played, the ball made it out to me at wing only once. and i caught it, an impressive feat considering that i have the hand-eye coordination of a hippo and was actually in motion at the time. pride and delight swelled up in my chest – i was high on accomplishment. and then the steel-cleated she-behemoth was right there, out of nowhere, about to flatten me, and i turned and fled. in the other direction. ahem, you know, towards the other team’s line. my fight or flight instincts are damn clear, and i know when something’s bigger than me. except the she-beast caught me anyway and ran right over me, taking the ball with her. WHUMPH. and my coach pretty much made me the waterboy after that.

i’d like to run, right now…to flee. especially since i know i can’t just lie here until grief passes on to elsewhere again. but if i tried to outrun her, she’d only catch me. somewhere or other she catches us all.

so instead i will pick myself up and go feed the baby and say a quiet thankyou for all that i have that i do not deserve and i will try to keep my mouth otherwise shut so i do not snap, so the grey does not escape. and i will be quiet, quiet with this old companion i never invited, until again she takes her things and leaves me in her wake to find my peace.