Grief – it can be quite jarring.
So this evening I was cutting carrots. On any ordinary day it is a normal part of the meal preparation. Except today I am startled by the sadness of the fact that I used to cut the tops and bottoms off for our rabbit. And he died recently.
It is amazing to recognise that children’s pets can affect adults too. Who really looks after them? Although technically our eight year old’s bunny, it was me who mostly hung out with him, petted him, fed him carrot tops and tidbits and kept his cage in order. He was my free range office mate. I really loved him.
So, when he died, I had to console my sobbing children. Explain death. Explain cycles. Add optimistic philosophy. Do the grave ceremony, do the consoling. Yet, for me the loss was also personal and deep.
You see cutting carrots links to peeling potatoes. And two years ago one of my dearest friends died by suicide. And somehow through a conversation at the funeral I learned that he had struggled to peel potatoes a week before he died. Left handed potato peelers are hard to come by… so now peeling potatoes is also linked to grief somehow. Cutting carrots links to lost bunnies, peeling potatoes links to lost friends and even driving past a particular church links me to thinking about my late grandma. People and memories all tie themselves to the present.
Walter Benjamin is one of my philosophy heroes. He writes about the present being connected to the past like a sock being turned inside out. So as time stacks, present layers weave into the past. So carrots link to bunny, potatoes link to friend, church links to grandma and so on. The present layers can never be freed of the past. They become one, a philosophical sock.
Now it is matariki. And we are prompted to remember those who have passed in the last year. Yet for me, the last year’s losses are all connected. They all hold hands in my mind.
For me the past stacks up like a bus stop. It is unfortunate that all of my dead gather together. The bunny grief is connected to the friend, to the grandma, to the other friend, to the puppy, to my first dog, to my Guinea pigs, to my 15 year old friend and so on… They stack.
And here they are. They are all there. They are all here.
I heard lyrics recently that said ‘I’m so glad I met you’ and they made me cry. And that had nothing and everything to do with carrots and potatoes.
It is ok to feel privately, quietly, intensely sad. Because it is not just carrot tops. And it is not just bunnies. And cutting carrots can be a big thing indeed.
It can be quite jarring, grief.