After Nan died, I moved through my world like I was in a fog. I was shattered and a grey fog seemed preferable to anything else. After all, I had small children and things to do, I didn’t have time to be crippled by grief, no matter that I felt shattered inside.
There is something about watching someone you love die in front of you that can leave you a bit broken you know?
And so that is how things continued. I moved through my days, bundled in a fog of I-refuse-to-feel-anything until I got to the point when I forgot how to feel anything. I internalised all of my grief and hello fog, you’re like a warm woolly blanket. Comforting and a little bit hard to get rid of because I might need you.
Nan died almost 10 months ago and while outside, I am coping, inside I am still shattered.
If I think about it, or her, I fall apart.
So I just don’t.
I don’t look at photos of her, any more than merely letting my eyes slide over them.
And I don’t speak about her, unless it’s a little bitterly, with a dose of realistic philosophical thrown in to stop it hurting quite so badly.
There are still things that make me happy though and at this point, I need all the small doses of happiness I can get.
Watching the world from the other side of a camera lens, that makes me happy. There is something about laying almost flat on my stomach and taking photos of toadstools or flowers that makes everything else easier to deal with. From the other side of a camera lens I feel like I can breathe again.
The simple act of taking photos, and coming inside to see how they turned out, it makes everything easier to deal with somehow.
Focusing on the small things leaves the big things to take care of themselves.
I am also the first person to admit that I can get a little obsessive when things make me feel happier or fulfilled.
A long time ago now, I used to work in a kitchen. The fast paced lifestyle left little time for thinking about other things and food, well, food is a huge passion of mine.
So when I discovered that making my own pasta sauces/jams/chutney and then photographing them gave me a small measure of happiness and fulfilment, I did a lot of it. Currently I’ve run out of jars and I’m itching to buy more strawberries because dammit, at least then you can see the results of all my hard work. I have something to show for working hard at it.
Grief isn’t like that apparently. No matter how hard I work at ignoring it, or even trying to deal with it, I’ve got nothing to show for it. It still hurts just as much when I poke the hole, so I leave off the poking and move back to things that make me happy.
Gardening makes me happy. The simple acts of picking my own produce, that’s seeing results from hard work.
We planted our six gum trees on Sunday. When we were done, I wished for another ten trees, another twenty even. Something to show for traipsing all over the yard, digging holes and dragging a hose around. I didn’t want to stop planting, because playing in the dirt, it made me feel something again. And I’ve not been feeling very much since Nan died.
I sat in the middle of the yard yesterday and just sat. With a camera in my hand and more toadstool photos on my memory card, I just sat. And I looked at the sky and I looked at my poultry, free ranging fifty metres away. I thought about how hard missing someone is and how much work grief is, for very little result. I thought about all the little things that make me happy and realised that I need all the happiness I can get.
Because even though the little things make me bounce with excitement, the bigs things are going to be there, waiting to be dealt with. Sitting on my shoulder, just waiting for a stray thought or word to bring me undone.
And at the end of the day, I will always be the kind of person who wryly tells her dying grandmother ‘Good thing it’s not leprosy, or you would have just pulled your ears off.’
Because that’s how I cope.
Happiness in small things.