Apr 29, 2009

The Purple Gorilla

Musings of A Beautiful Mess

I received an email from Becoming Whole last night. She sent me the most amazing poem. She said "Hey Beautiful Mess-- I'm not sure that this is the kind of thing that you like, but I thought of this poem the other day, when you wrote about your grief for your mom.. I have found it very meaningful. Here's the link.
~Becoming Whole" I read the poem, which I'll copy and paste, and got all teary eyed. The poem is outstanding and it really is true. Let me know what you think.....

Grief

by Matthew Dickman May 5, 2008

When grief comes to you as a purple gorilla
you must count yourself lucky.
You must offer her what’s left
of your dinner, the book you were trying to finish
you must put aside,
and make her a place to sit at the foot of your bed,
her eyes moving from the clock
to the television and back again.
I am not afraid. She has been here before
and now I can recognize her gait
as she approaches the house.
Some nights, when I know she’s coming,
I unlock the door, lie down on my back,
and count her steps
from the street to the porch.
Tonight she brings a pencil and a ream of paper,
tells me to write down
everyone I have ever known,
and we separate them between the living and the dead
so she can pick each name at random.
I play her favorite Willie Nelson album
because she misses Texas
but I don’t ask why.
She hums a little,
the way my brother does when he gardens.
We sit for an hour
while she tells me how unreasonable I’ve been,
crying in the checkout line,
refusing to eat, refusing to shower,
all the smoking and all the drinking.
Eventually she puts one of her heavy
purple arms around me, leans
her head against mine,
and all of a sudden things are feeling romantic.
So I tell her,
things are feeling romantic.
She pulls another name, this time
from the dead,
and turns to me in that way that parents do
so you feel embarrassed or ashamed of something.
Romantic? she says,
reading the name out loud, slowly,
so I am aware of each syllable, each vowel
wrapping around the bones like new muscle,
the sound of that person’s body
and how reckless it is,
how careless that his name is in one pile and not the other.

Every time I read it, my breath catches in my throat when the name is pulled from the "dead pile" and my eyes get watery when the gorilla is coming up the porch and each step is being counted. That's exactly how I felt when grief would rear it's ugly head, except I wasn't happy about grief's return. I was terrified! I would do everything in my power to stop grief from coming into my room and sit with me. Grief was my enemy. And by making grief my enemy, by not accepting this beautiful purple gorilla as my friend, I made things worse for myself.

Last night the purple gorilla became friends. I can't say she and I are best friends, but we got to know each other pretty well last night. I was laying on my husband and he was being so sweet that I lost control over my emotions. He said to me "you can cry if you need too". I told him it was too late, I already started. He let me soak his shirt *again* and said all the right things. Eventually the cries got deeper and harder to hold in and I was sobbing.

I was trying to explain how much I want the pain to go away. How I'm exhausted from grief. I know why I'm so exhausted, I'm not doing everything I can to feel the pain. I'm still blocking it until it becomes too much for me to bear. It's a vicious circle. I'm not running as far as I was, but I still am running. He then said something that made sense and just "clicked". I know it isn't the first time I've heard it, but sometimes you have to hear something a few times before it "clicks" for you. He said to me "you don't want that pain to go away because that pain how much love you HAVE for your mom". And he is right. My mom was and is a huge part of my life. The relationship we have and had as a family isn't the same as most. When I was 18 and got chickenpox, I slept in bed with my parents. See? That's not normal! It's just the type of family we were and are. The love us four have for each other is boundless. It's almost like that clique of people at your school you wanted to be friends with. It's not that we are cool, per se, it's just that we love each other, A LOT.

Anyway, an hour later, I stopped crying. I cried for ONE! HOUR! I don't even think I cried that much the day she passed away or at the funeral. Although, I think we opened up the floodgates, because I've only been up for and hour and a half and have cried a few times already. One time while I was making coffee this morning and the rest while I'm typing this. It's really hard to give myself up and make friend with my purple gorilla, but it's time. It's time her and I got to know each other a little bit better. I've been running away from this beautiful creature for far to long. She and my mom deserve better.

I'm not weak because I'm crying. I'm not any less of a person because I miss my mom. I will not beat myself up because it's been three years and "I need to get over it already". The pain is real. The pain is physical and I will treat myself as if I'm physically hurt. I will be nice and I will be gentle to myself. I will, also, ask that others do the same. I will not push my friends and family away, I will draw them closer.

17 friends have commented:

Jill on April 29, 2009 at 8:40 AM said...

I'm glad you're moving in the direction of taking care of yourself. The Purple Gorilla is hard to make friends with, but the friendship truely heals.

((hugs))

Kristin on April 29, 2009 at 10:03 AM said...

That is a truly beautiful poem and I am glad it is helping you.

Deathstar on April 29, 2009 at 10:59 AM said...

This poem is so true. To repress grief is to invite depression to move in and set up shop in your life. I know, I did it. There is no timeline for grief, it just is and you have to go through it, release it through your pores, your tears.

Stacey K on April 29, 2009 at 2:31 PM said...

beautiful poem. thank you for sharing it with us.

hugs

The Unproductive One on April 29, 2009 at 2:42 PM said...

You're right you're not weak for crying and grieving, in fact you're the opposite.

You're strong for crying and grieving, because it means that you're able to recognise your emotions and deal with them....thats something I haven't been able to do yet.

As the one year anniversary approached, I'm still yet to fully grieve for my Dad....I only wish I was as strong as you babes...

xxxx

Aunt Becky on April 29, 2009 at 3:02 PM said...

Grieving just sucks. There's no other way about it. Thank you for the poem, I think it might help me.

Jenn on April 29, 2009 at 3:10 PM said...

You put your thoughts and feelings into words so perfectly!

I just want to say that I am really proud of you for letting yourself be EXACTLY where you are....with no pretense or worry of what others think.

Your grief is just that....YOURS!

It is uniquely personal to you!
Your relationship with your mom sounds amazing...and I cannot begin to fathom the depth of your hurt.

I am just glad you are walking through all that uncomfortable crap day by day.

(((((HUGS))))))

becomingwhole on April 29, 2009 at 5:08 PM said...

I'm so glad the poem was meaningful to you. I have run from grief so many times. It is impossible to escape forever. It always catches up eventually. Sounds like it caught you. I'm honored to be here while you're with your purple friend (and afterward, too).

WiseGuy on April 30, 2009 at 12:17 AM said...

Becoming Whole wrote me a beautiful comment on my last post...she is very thoughtful...she has sent you a wonderful poem...Ahh the purple Gorilla!

Comfort.

cysteract on April 30, 2009 at 10:02 AM said...

Awww thank you so much .. I am sending you snuggles today too, and you can share my Special M&M's.

Your deal sounds GREAT to me ..Be good to yourself

xX

Eve on April 30, 2009 at 11:13 AM said...

What a wonderful poem! I'm so glad it's bringing you comfort. I believe that greif is not one moutain, but an entire mountain range...each time you get over one hill, there's another one approaching. But to go through that journey and not to stay stuck in the valleys is truly the mark of someone strong!

Kymberli on April 30, 2009 at 5:26 PM said...

What a beautiful poem, Dani. I don't want to sound condescending, especially when I don't have any experience with the level of grief that you are experiencing, but I am proud of you. I know how scary it is to open the floodgates and let in an emotion that you've been avoiding. It takes a lot of strength and courage to do so. (((HUGS)))

JamieD on April 30, 2009 at 6:59 PM said...

((((HUGS))))

Love the new digs, BTW!!

wereyoulookingforme on April 30, 2009 at 8:27 PM said...

That was a lovely post. I'm sorry for the loss of your mom, it sounds like she was a great person. I hope you can find some peace. I lost my mom about three years ago and I still sometimes pick up the phone to call her and then remember she's just not there. And then the grief hits and all the emotions and it just sucks. I'm sorry sweetie. But I am happy you have a wonderful husband to lean on.

A Mom in Jacksonville, FL on May 1, 2009 at 4:50 PM said...

What a great poem. And what a great post. Sounds like you're making huge strides in your journey with grief.

squarepegperson on May 2, 2009 at 6:42 AM said...

This is beautiful - the poem and your words...it's odd, but i kept reading on thru the poem and into your words without realizing i'd left the poem -- the FEELING was the same, the depth of heart and vulnerability was exact...my heart goes out to you about the pain, and also goes out to your (bowing! namaste) about ALLOWING the pain - about sharing at this level - I am blessed and honored to read your words ...(p.s. thank you for sharing the poem, you've introduced me to a poem i didn't know of...and whose work - i just went hunting - blows me away!!)

Mrs Bee on September 19, 2010 at 11:42 PM said...

Thats a beautiful poem.

Sending you lots of love.
xxooxx

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