I drove into the city for my morning classes. A Greek mythology class in the morning, which I enjoyed. It was a couple of months into my first semester of college. More importantly, it was my son’s birthday.
Emotionally, I had been doing well for the past couple of months. College was invigorating, the atmosphere was electric and I basked in that feeling, the feeling of being exactly where I should be. I was eighteen, I was in college, I had an exceptional boyfriend, I was making good grades, making friends. I would stop at Barnes & Noble after classes some days and spend my afternoons drinking iced chai with no ice (“So tepid?” She said. “What?” “Tepid Chai”) and save money by reading entire books in their armchairs, writing page numbers down when it was time to leave.
I chopped my hair off into a pixie cut after coveting the choppy brown hair of a classmate in my art history class. I scribbled a picture onto a small piece of paper and handed it to the Great Clips stylist, who asked if she could keep my drawing.
It was everything I had signed up for it to be, the adoption. The turning my life around, the going to college.
But as soon as I parked and walked into the still drowsy building, as soon as I sat on the couch waiting for the professor to arrive and open the door, my breath became shallow, my thoughts were frantic and images and words grew and grew and jumped and yelled until my class seemed so distant and mythology so irrelevant and I lifted myself and slipped away. And drove away. And cried.
So much of grief didn’t feel the way I imagined grief would feel. It’s something felt in the dusty, dim-lit basement of your brain where words and logic can’t survive. It swims and moves and steams and storms for uncharted reasons.
Upstairs, my words and logic argued about how great things were, how right it was, how happy he is.
But the waters beneath spoke a different language, a primitive language too deep and powerful for my micromanaging cortex. It swept my body like a hurricane drifting easily over and through the city. Crushing and breaking and sweeping and controlling without effort.
Most of the tears I’ve let out for J have had no reasons attached to them. They just accumulate and run and build up again and go, from a well deep within, too sacred for human exploration. It just is. And that day, it just was. Like the updates. Like Mother’s Day. Like those moments when the sight of soft cheeks or round bellies would dip into that secret well.
It took six years before the storms were pacified and I made it through significant triggers without losing composure.
After that, there was a drought for a few years.
But the rains would return around nine years, and periodically for two more.