May 17, 2021

Breathing You in: a Diary Page from Grief.

April 24, 2021

Standing in the dusk air on some random spot between my barn and my house, I paused to look again at the sky, as if it held some truth or answers.

After all, that is where we all go, right? Up? Up there?

So I look once again for the one millionth time for a scrap of comfort, some sense of you. 

The sky is fairly nondescript this early evening; no swaths of transparent blended colors, no glow to the clouds’ edges, no marked horizon across a sun on fire. It looks all rather common and without comment on the day or night to come, or for that matter any predictions of tomorrow. No, I don’t see anything remarkable. Still, I hesitate to move. 

As I stand breathing, I become aware of my breath and how shallow it is, and how even when I try, it feels like something is missing in the air I breathe; it feels like some part of the entire space I am in, all that I see and feel, is not all that it appears to be.

It’s going nowhere, this air sucked in. As if my lungs fill only part of what they need. No point in going deep; this air will not satisfy. It is not complete. Not my air. Not what my air, around me, wherever I am, needs to have. The composition of my air, what my life begs for, claws for, is you. 

I know what loss is; I know what the gaping hole in my heart is, what the darkness that now shrouds my soul feels like. I know death on what I thought was every conceivable level. My numbered days since have each been a new view of all that is lost and altered.

I am reminded constantly to breathe—to breathe in the air and fill my lungs and gain the pause that comes from a calmer, rhythmic pulse of life, to whatever extent I am capable. To stay. In the moment. One moment at a time. So the scream lodged in my soul does not take over.

Catching my breath has become commonplace; zillions of words and sites and triggers of all kinds are, at every turn I make, an assault on my ability to simply breathe. Weights on my chest, knives into my pulsing heart, my weak attempts to keep going. So I breathe more shallow now. I don’t take it all in deep or endeavor to pull life into my lungs, filling them with the air—I lack the impulse I had, the desire to even breathe deeply and know I am alive still.  

Contemplating momentarily my drawn out, yet shallow breathing, my brow wrinkled and corners of my eyes drooping down, the twist in my gut rises because I paused—I paused in my busyness and the momentum that I try to keep through most hours of the day, holding my finger in the dyke of my true reality of mind and heart. Empty. Void. Incomplete at best. 

My mind strays to “Why don’t I breathe life in anymore?” Why do I deny it to touch the torn edges of my heart or even my racing or blank mind? After all, I have suffered so long and hard to even reach this tenuous and fragile ability to hold the tsunami back, to carry the day and nights, to stand upright and open my eyes.

Why do I not relish this air, the spring rain scented air of grass and heliotrope flowers; the sunny enraptured and silky air of summer; the crushed leaf scent on the blustery days of fall; the clean crisp air of snow falling?

I am told you are there—that the wonders of nature hold you—something I have found fairly difficult to believe, with little understanding why it is said at all. It’s silliness, and your brilliant and incomparable life shall not be reduced for me to totems and wishful imaginings. This, or that my faith hovers on a reed tip in a storm. Nothing seems worthy enough to believe in. 

So I breathe deeply, and there it is. I never realized it until now, though every air-craving cell of my body knew it to be true—the very air has lost something. It no longer satisfies or brings life to me; it is quite obviously, now, devoid of you, your essence, your living force and power to ground me, to surround me and satisfy me with your love of me, and my joy at seeing you, feeling you, alive and loving life, so much promise to come.

An ending never meant for. A premature break in the chain that holds us together. There can be no righting this. No resolution, no closure, or understanding. The air is different.

This makes so much sense to me suddenly; it is like discovering one tiny answer as to what is happening to me—why I am set apart and why it feels like I live one second askew to the entirety of what is happening about me at all times. It is justified now—it is understood, explained, verified.

These short breaths are all I have to live with. No depth to them. Taking in more would just scatter the tightly held truth that simply cannot be believed or lived.

The air I breathe has lost you from it, and that cannot be fixed. It is as real as the act of breathing. A life qualifier. Evidence I am not crazy, at least not in that sense—that something affects me, affects me in a tangible way. I know this to be a truth now.

Why even breathing does not help. It merely sustains a physical body with holes and caverns in it, in which all sorts of elements can sink and fall out of as easily as they enter. Breathing that has no nourishment, that cannot heal anything. Like some chemical left out, its composition is off—like me—just slightly off what life was, what it is promised to be, what it is so delicately balanced as. And just like when a life dissolves, all the love and life that existed there held some crucial ingredient for life to go on complete.

Perhaps we forget there are things we are still to discover about loss. Discovering loss. Who knew it could have a life of its own. That it could be as sinister and diabolical in the air we breathe—reminding us in every breath that we have lost that which we cannot live or love fully without. 

You were in the air I breathed. 


I do feel you around me outside, at least I tell myself I do. I am calmer and slower when I am feeling you close; nature bound us before, it seems maybe…maybe I need, as so many others do, to create a reality where you still exist.

I knew somehow it would come to this. Having to choose between accepting you are utterly gone or making up in my mind an entire new reality, as fragile and scarred and dubious as it may be. The whole truth must be held back.

I must breathe this air, and missing you, I must find you, or believe you to be somewhere. 


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