person walking on pathway near trees

Do We Ever Stop Mourning?

Winter makes me wonder if people really ever move on. If people ever stop mourning, I guess.

The stages of grief are as follows: denial, isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. This is universally accepted—it is all part of being human, isn’t it? Before you experience it, you may think it’s like checking off a list. But it’s slow. It comes in waves. And sometimes they repeat.

Denial was me shaking in my chair holding onto the glass coffee table, smell of tropical rain and fresh phở wafting under my nose, thinking not me not me not me, this is a dream. Wake up, Mom, wake up. 

Going mute for two months, that was isolation. Pouring myself endlessly into the ratty journal that still felt like summer. I was 11, wide-eyed and not yet puberty stricken.

I was supposed to be resilient. I was supposed to bounce back.

So I began to pretend.

September came and I talked again. I cried into the phone while listening to my mom’s voicemail, knowing she wouldn’t pick up again. I asked her what I did to deserve this. I told her it wasn’t fair, that I was angry with her for leaving me. And then I heard a voice: Nothing will ever be the same.

I threw my phone against the wall, breaking it.

The summer before eighth grade, I stopped believing in God. Bargaining never crossed my mind. At 13, I was tired of hoping. I was tired.

As for the last two, I don’t know how to describe them. In words, rather than in the feeling in my chest. Acceptance came first, I think. But it was a bitter taste, with no notes of victory.

Grief follows me around like a ghost — or perhaps more aptly, a small, needy child, hanging onto my coattails, tugging at me, trying to pull me down.

I stumble sometimes, but I always get back up.

I’ve never met a noodle I didn’t like.

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