It’s unusual for where I live, but it’s hot, oppressively hot. I feel it like a weight, and wonder if it is the weight of grief, or simply heat.
Last night, I lay on top the covers on my bed, listening to crickets, knowing the frequency of their chirping gives the temperature, but the chirping was too continuous to count, and I already knew it was hot.
In case you’re interested though, you can get a rough estimate of the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit by counting the number of chirps in 15 seconds and then adding 37. The number you get will be an approximation of the outside temperature.
What I noticed though is there an early morning time when the crickets stop chirping and the birds haven’t yet begun their morning call. There is a pause.
I sink into that pause today, sink into the darkness that precedes the dawn and there is grief. It’s the 58th day since my brother’s passing. Shouldn’t I be moving along? And there are layers in grief. Layers, and of course that word reminds me of pastry, Danish pastry, and so I Google to learn that Danish pastry is made by rolling out layers of dough, placing thin slices of butter between the layers, and then with folding and rolling, there are 27 layers. Well, if there are 27 layers in a Danish pastry, how many layers are there in grief? Maybe I’m right on track.
My son and his wife just returned from two weeks in Portugal. This morning, he regales me with what he knows will interest me most, a bookstore, one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, the Livraria Lello in Porto, Portugal. People stand in line and pay to enter this monument to words and books.
J.K. Rowlings taught in Porto from 1991 to 1993. The staircase in the bookstore probably inspired the moving staircase in Harry Potter.
My son says maybe we could have an architectural marvel bookstore like this in San Francisco. In my downward, layered spiral of grief, I respond that we can’t even deal with the homeless on the streets. Shouldn’t that come first?
I think today’s grief is related to all grief. I don’t need to divide it in my brother’s passing, my mother’s, father’s, climate change, poverty, politics, greed.
My friend Elaine notes I’ve been honoring my Chinese horoscope animal the ox. She suggests I allow myself to lie down today with lambs. She is wise, and so today, I honor the fatigue that is grief, and sink into the pause between the sounds of birds and crickets. I rest, holding grief treasured in my hands like a pastry, a friend, a book.