Sometimes I think of this grief as a wire. I'm dangling from it, holding on as tightly as I can with both hands. The wire is sharp and is cutting my hands. Far below are jagged rocks. People come along and say how sorry they are. They are walking comfortably and securely along the wire. It's like they don't even notice they are walking on a wire. They have the right shoes for it. I am barefoot. Sometimes they bring food. I picture casseroles. Sometimes they say, "Aaww, that looks uncomfortable. Here, let me help." And they start to lift my fingers one by one off the wire. I want to scream, "No! Don't do that! I will fall!" Instead I politely say, "Oh thank you. That's so kind." Sometimes, with great effort, I am able to say, "Could you please not do that? I know you mean well but you're making it worse." Some people respond, "Huh. I was only trying to help." They walk away and don't return. Others say, "Oh sorry! I will stop. Let me know what you need." I don't really need anything. Some of them come back and just talk to me. They listen. Somehow that makes it less uncomfortable for me. Sometimes they put on very thick gloves and climb down and dangle beside me for a while. When I think I'm alone, dangling on this wire, I look to either side and there are other people dangling there too. Their hands are cut and they are barefoot. I take one hand off the wire and wave. They wave back. It's hard to do this, I feel like I'm going to fall but I don't. Sometimes we call out things to each other. Mostly we say, "I know."
Every analogy breaks down at some point. How do I get off this wire? I don't think I do. I think maybe I grow callouses and scars. My arms grow stronger. I pull myself up. My feet get cut. They grow callouses and scars. I never get my shoes back. My balance gets better, but never perfect. It's always work. The cuts never fully heal, but I get used to the sensation.