After Grief: Crashing the Party of Life

witchOnce a long time ago, I crashed a Halloween party. It sounds as if I am very bold, doesn’t it? But truly, it was out of character for me, and besides, I was in costume. I remember that the party was given by a friend of a friend, but I have no idea how or why I decided to go — perhaps as a joke to see how long it would take for people to realize they didn’t know me.

I dressed as a comic-book witch — the whole bit: long black scraggly hair, puttied nose and chin almost meeting, heavy black brows, green-tinged skin, cackling voice. I walked into the party as if I belonged there, and for a while I was the belle of the ball as people tried to guess who I was. It finally occurred to one guy that I was a total stranger. So I left. Rather hurriedly.

That’s how I feel now as I am reawakening to the world after the numbness that gripped me during the long dying of my life mate/soul mate and the grief I experienced after his death — as if I have crashed a party, and I don’t know myself or any of the guests. Everyone seems costumed in happiness and success, though I know those facades are as misleading as mine. Our smiles and even our laughter hide old sorrows and new insecurities.

I couldn’t follow my mate to wherever he went, so I this is what is left to me — trying to find my way alone, wondering why I am at the party. I don’t belong, but where else would I be?

I remember the quiet excitement I felt at that Halloween party, the adrenaline rush of stepping out of my normal life, and occasionally I feel that now, as if the world is opening to me, if I only knew what to do with it. I left that Halloween party when the situation became too uncomfortable, but I don’t have that option now. Even though I am not comfortable with life’s party I have inadvertantly ended up attending, I have to stick it out, waiting for . . . what? I do not know.

And so here I am, boldly acting as if I belong, but secretly wondering if anyone will guess that I am a stranger in a strange land.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+

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