Photo by hotblack.
Within five minutes of receiving the shocking news of my brother's sudden death, I found myself--without a suitcase or itinerary--standing on the deck of HMS Uncertainty, cruising through the waters of the Grief Canal.
Six minutes earlier, I had been talking to my visiting uncle, who sat just ten feet from me in our den. Immediately after The Call, I stood waving in confusion to my uncle, who now watched me from the banks of the Grief Canal.
Of course, I didn't know I was on the Grief Canal and that someone else had booked passage for me. I only knew I was alone, the skies were dark and threatening, and a painful lump had replaced my heart and was pressuring on my tear ducts.
Soon, someone--I don't know who--steered me to my room. People walked past and smiled, their faces fuzzy and out of focus. People I knew from home--my husband and children, friends, other family members--called to check on me. But their voices--though thick like peanut butter with concern and love for me--sounded distant, like I had slipped down a tin tunnel, far out of their reach. I slept. I cried. I felt the aching lump in my chest and wondered if my eyelids would ever return to their normal, smaller size.
Stewards left food for me. Sometimes I ate. Mostly, I pushed the food from one side of the plate to the other. I slept again. After several days, I opened my door and looked down the long hallway. There on the floor outside my door, was a pair of slippers in my size.
I slid my feet inside the slippers and stepped into the hallway. Stewards passed me, smiling and nodding. Can I get you anything? How are you doing today, Mrs. Beers? I don't need anything, but thank you. I think I'm doing better. Thank you for asking.
Shuffling down the hallway, the warm breezes beckoned from the deck. I breathed deeply. My shoulders relaxed, and I closed my eyes in the sunshine. When I returned to my room, I called my husband and said, "I feel better. I think I'm okay now!"
That's what I get for doing my own thinking.