Cathexis Northwest Press
I Will Grieve Until I Return To Dust
By: Paul Rousseau
“A real experience of death isolates one absolutely. The
bereaved cannot communicate with the unbereaved.”
Iris Murdoch, An Accidental Man, 1971
1. The coffee maker gurgles the final drops of medium roast. I pour a cup and plop
into a chair at the kitchen table. I rub my brow and heave a deep breath; I can feel
the press of her absence on my skin.
2. She was blood and tissue and sinews. She was a wife, a mother, a daughter. And
then she was gone, her presence forever perished. I collapsed and wept. I cried and
cried until I washed all the salt from my body, then I cried some more. My grief
was everywhere. I wanted to die. I tried to die.
3. Sharon White, in her book Field Notes. A Geography of Mourning, penned after
the death of her young husband, proposes, “Healing takes a serpentine route.” I
disagree. Grief, while serpentine, never heals. The shards soften (perhaps that is
her inference), but the heartache remains, percolating in the interstices, waiting
for the slightest provocation: a photo, a smell, a food, a room, a sound, a word, a
Paul Rousseau (he/him/his) is a semi-retired physician and writer published in The Healing Muse, Blood and Thunder, The Examined Life, Hektoen International, Intima. A Journal of Narrative Medicine, The Human Touch, Pulse. Voices From the Heart of Medicine, Please See Me, Months To Years, The Maine Review, 433 Literary Magazine, Sunspot Literary Magazine, Dr. T. J. Eckleburg Review, Tendon, and others. Lover of dogs. Twitter: @ScribbledCoffee
Author’s Note: As a physician, I felt particularly impotent when my wife became ill. I wanted to help, but was helpless; she was too sick. And now, sixteen years later, the grief and guilt and regret remain.