Last night, a song from childhood happened to come over the speakers where I work. I stopped where I was, so happy to hear it again before being immediately gripped with a grieving nostalgia so fierce, I wedged myself between two shelves, hidden, so I could listen to it, undisturbed, letting whatever was to come, come.
I won’t lie–being reminded of childhood, of the (then unknown) possibility inherent in it, the blissful ignorance that one day, all too soon, my father would be irretrievably gone, was so exquisitely painful, I didn’t know if I’d stand up again. So I sat there, mourning losses: the easy bond of siblings before adulting came in and complicated everything, the safety of minimal responsibility, the giddy joy of a well-loved song cycling to the surface during a long, dull drive. I mourned the stories my parents told me that I’ve now forgotten, and I mourn those I never got to hear, and questions I never think to ask.
It’s essential, this mourning, because we can’t keep running. Our past trails us, tied efficiently to our ankles until we pick it up, carry it, and take the time to untie it before burying it, burning it, or scattering it. Our customs for dealing with the dead are different, but we employ ceremony and time for grief for a reason. If we don’t allow that time, what we’ve left behind will drag us with it into the underworld.