I heard an analogy that grief is like a cloak that you can never take off, but rather must wear for the rest of your life. Some days the cloak is light and you don’t feel it much and some days it’s so heavy it’s hard to move or breathe. There is no perfect analogy to explain this, but “the cloak” can at least help explain the constancy of grief. The person you are grieving is constant, never ceasing, in your mind- morning, noon and night, causing physical discomfort at best and inexplicable torment at worst. But there, always.
My cloak, it comes to bed with me and won’t let me sleep well. It causes me to need to write at odd hours of the night, forcing me to listen to the silence in the darkness and feel the hollowness of my home. It lays so heavy on my back in the morning it makes it hard to want to get up. It takes up so much room in my car, it makes me cry in there a lot. I try to leave it at the dock when we go out to enjoy a beautiful day outside, but it always comes anyhow, reminding me of what was. Like when I open a compartment and see his life jacket laying there or I see him at the wheel, superimposed over Dave like a hologram, driving the boat by himself how he so loved to do. What was.
I remember thinking to myself one day that my cloak talks. A lot. I wonder if other cloaks talk or is it just mine? Some days it whispers and some days it screams, but it is always talking. “You could have, you should have, remember when?, If only you, I wonder if…, your family is ruined, something could happen to the older boys, your husband is ruined, you’re kids are damaged forever, my load will never lighten, I will never stop screaming at you, you can’t bear me, I’m too heavy, I’m going to crush you, you need to run away, you’re no good to anyone like this, there is nothing left for you.”
The cloak is horribly cruel, but most of the time I believe what it says and I don’t want to. I believe what it says because it is still so unbearably heavy and loud and unrelenting while the “still small voice” of God is so still and so small. As much as I try to trim it, shake it off and distract myself from it, it won’t go. Daily I pray it begins to lighten and quiet soon.
Walking up the path from the boat yesterday it was pulling on me so hard, I thought I would cry right there. That familiar pain welling up, so I tried to think of the cloak as my son. As me carrying him on my back instead. I thought maybe if I could think of it that way, it would be easier somehow. Carrying him on me, in my arms. I would carry him forever if only I could, so maybe…
The cloak is invisible of course, so no one knows it’s there. When I am working, talking or laughing even, they don’t realize. Maybe they think how great I am doing, ( am I? ) but they can’t see the cloak. When I am distracted or forgetful they don’t know the cloak has a huge draping hood and is so mentally draining, my mind is usually anywhere else than where I am at that moment. I am not what I used to be. Not yet? Or not ever? I don’t know.
I know of other Moms who have a cloak. I wonder if it has lightened for them or are they just managing the weight of it well? Healing or just faking it? Some days I do carry it better than others. Some moments, like this week, sitting with people I love, in a friends kitchen laughing so hard, I almost felt free of it! Laughter is just incredible. I never truly appreciated the freedom that laughter carries and the load it lifts. I took laughter for granted because it used to come so effortlessly. But as the laughter ceased and I stepped out of that house, we were just us again, and there it was, aching and heavy on my back before we even got to our car. I’m so grateful for those moments of freedom though. So grateful. But they are just moments and I know they are fleeting and will leave me much too quickly, not knowing when or how another moment like that will come. There are so many hours in a day now. Thousands of moments left to chance.
Some days life adds to the weight of it. Life does not care one bit that the cloak is there. It goes on spinning and tossing things at me, oblivious to the cloak and its devastating weight. It doesn’t care that at any moment the cloak is going to have its way. Take me down.
But it can’t. Not today. I won’t let it. This is not my destination, it’s not my final stand. It will be where I was, not where I am. I know He can’t take it from me, but I offer the weight of this cloak to Him. Because I loved my son so deeply and so completely, the cloak is mine for life. I just ask that He use it. Don’t let this be in vain.
Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Psalms 51:8