Operating instructions

quilt 3

The moment came in the dying, then in being seated with the dead. Before you ever found your footing, the quilt was laid across your shoulders. The heft of it kept you grounded, so much so that in the first days you seldom moved, except to bed, except to chair, except to bed, except to stand on the back step and wonder how your head could still be attached.

In time, you won’t remember what it feels like to walk without it.

Reprieves come. A perfect breeze, a sunrise, a conversation, a real letter in the real mail, a joke told impeccably, the ability to laugh and feel it,  and most of all, in a period of stillness when your mind is able, finally able, to be quiet. Reprieves come, and you are almost but not quite Old You, walking above feathers. The quilt will slip back on, naturally so, and you will accept this and resume walking because it’s what you do. You keep walking.

The holidays, days and nights where the world tilts and everyone is thrown off-balance, fall into your pockets like rocks. Those who have not been introduced to Grief (or who stay sufficiently medicated against it) adjust to the tilt and keep walking while your cape of patchwork lead grows longer, wider, and heavier. People step all over it. You do, too. You stumble, a lot. Frustration! You are tense, afraid of hitting the ground. Your body aches from holding on, holding back. You’re tired, easily overwhelmed, irritated. You feel shut out. You feel abandoned. You feel incendiary. You and your cape, you don’t fit in anywhere easily anymore.

Grief slams you up against mortality, yours and everyone else’s. Time moves, constantly, quickly, around you and past you, a blur, motion and sand, around all of whom and all of what you love while the patchwork cape tethers you to now, to life in this place.

Eventually, you will see the day coming when you will untie it from your neck, let it fall, gather it up, and pack it away.

Precious treasure.

While I hold you
While I carry you
I have you still
When I release you
When I let go
When I let loose
What will remain?


About Vicki Caroline Cheatwood

Writerly. Rebooting. Evolving. Searching for great chicken salad.
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