on grief

It is 6:45 in the morning and I am in one of Melbourne’s small, quirky cafés; mitten fingers snugly wrapped around my third cup of coffee; white rings circle my breath as I inhale winter’s crispness.

I am hypnotised by the sound of the city awakening from its slumber; watching as the odd car venturing through its narrow corridors switches off its lights.

I sit here, meaning to finally write back to you, but all I can think about is how much the chairs hanging from the café’s ceiling remind me of our messily orchestrated lives. Jammed and crowded; chipped and scratched; worn-out by your insecurities and my confused indecision. And always, always, under the threat of being engulfed by our corrosive flame.

Eleven years was too long to hold on to our embers, and I am not really sure which one of us was more relieved when we finally decided to let them go.

And yet here we are, our salt-stained rivers confluent once more. This time though, it is your threads that dangle on the precipice and it is my turn to untangle your body from the shore and help you relearn how to catch the wave.

I know that your knuckles have hardened from punching so many suited jaws. But please, whatever you do, do not ever give up your board. Guard it as selfishly as you did your icecream tubs. See? Your thin wafers can still bend upwards, and there is so much in life worth bending for.

It is so easy to add a letter and turn loss into grief, yet forget how rightly both belong in our world. And how can they not?

Every day, we lose cells, so you can never be the person you were the day before. Yet somehow, our brain retains just enough to ‘remember’ who we are, and pass on this knowledge to our new, budding cells. In fact, we remember so much, that the brain can make an amputee feel phantom pain of a limb that no longer exists; the pain snakes upwards for the next body part to grieve what was lost anew. And you know what? You inherit not only your parents’ DNA, but also their experiences. So we remember our life’s experiences, both happy and painful, and in remembering, often re-imagine them, our bodies feeding on their corpse and recasting them in a new life, a new cell and eventually, a new being.

My question to you is: where will your memories dwell? Will they dwell in grief, dwell in pain, or dwell in hope? Which memories will you discard, and which will you hold on to, so at night, when your cells are busy dying and being born, the right memories are imparted to future generations?

If it was up to me, I would make your cells remember your love of steam trains; hot chocolate and marshmallows on a cold day; your one-sided dimple and sun-kissed hugs, but most importantly, the knowledge that life is not over yet.

And neither are you.

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