There is a holiness to exhaustion is what I keep telling myself, filling out the form so my TA gets paid then making copies of it on the hot and heaving machine, writing Strong start! on a pretty bad poem. And then the children: the baby’s mouth opening, going for the breast, the girl’s hair to wash tonight and then comb so painstakingly in the tub while conditioner drips in slick globs onto her shoulders, while her discipline chart flaps in the air conditioner at school, taped to a filing cabinet, longing for stickers. My heart is so giant this evening, like one of those moons so full and beautiful and terrifying if you see it when you’re getting out of the car you have to go inside the house and make someone else come out and see it for themselves. I want every- thing, I admit. I want yes of course and I want it all the time. I want a clean heart. I want the children to sleep and the drought to end. I want the rain to come down—It’s supposed to monsoon is what Naomi said, driving away this morning, and she was right, as usual. It’s monsooning. Still, I want more. Even as the streets are washed clean and then begin to flood. Even though the man came again today to check the rat traps and said he bet we’d catch the rat within 24 hours. We still haven’t caught the rat, so I’m working at the table with my legs folded up beneath me. I want to know what is holy— I do. But first I want the rat to die. I am thirsty for that death and will drink deeply of that victory, the thwack of the trap’s hard plastic jaw, I will rush to see the evidence no matter how gruesome, leaning my body over the washing machine to see the thing crushed there, much smaller than I’d imagined it’d be, the strawberry large in its mouth. Carrie Fountain
I think the thing that has surprised me most about my grief is how exhausting it is. There have been days when I felt I was coming to terms with it, when I understood its patterns, began to see shape in them, even coherence. I fooled myself into thinking we may even have come to some sort of understanding.
Those days are over now. The grief has no interest in coming to an understanding with me, no interest in letting me in on its plans, coupled to zero awareness of the damage it is doing to my sleep, my eating, my reading, not to mention my ability to concentrate and remember even the most rudimentary parts of my job.
I am officially exhausted. I wave the white flag. OK, grief, you win. What now? I cuddle the dog, get lost on a walk, phone the rat man, try to look at some James Schuyler, book the rat man, attempt a prayer, then collapse onto the sofa. I am trying to find holiness in all this mess, but it is hard, hard, hard. And it isn’t going away. It is hard.