Crafting Grief

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What should I do, I wonder, when the words desert me? When the stories don’t bounce around the inside of my skull anymore? When the desire to tell stories is gone, and there is nothing good left in its place.

For those who don’t know me, I don’t make my living from writing – and if I did, I’d be living in a milk crate. Storytelling is my craft, but Policing is my profession. I am a cop, a Mountie, and that is both what pays my bills, and gives me fodder for many of my stories.

If you’ve been watching the news in BC, you’ll know that we recently lost a young member of our organization to a Motor-Vehicle collision. It was an awful, tragic way to lose such a young life, and believe you me, it fucking hurts.

Adrian – our newly fallen – and I were not best friends. But, I used to work with him, and I knew him; I’d laughed at his jokes, and sat across from him at the dinner table. What he was, was my brother: another cop who wore the scarlet and strapped down his courage every day to go out and do a difficult job. I’ve called for help at work, and he came running, and I did the same for him. We’ve stood in rainy parking lots, after a difficult scene, when we had a little grief to share between the few who were there, and passed it around to make the burden lighter. He was a good cop, and a good man, damned good, and I was proud to say I had opportunity to work with him.

With Adrian’s death a deep grief has settled over the whole of the city I work in. I’ve worked at the same detachment for 9 years, and I have never heard that building so quiet; There are no voices raised in friendly greeting, no laughter. People who have worked together for years will pass in the hallways without so much as a nod. Everyone is carrying their own burden, and they are content to do so in silence. Adrian’s death has left an empty space in us all, and no matter how hard we look, there is nothing to fill it but sorrow.

That empty space in me means an absence of stories. When the grief moved in it pushed all the words out. It might be silly for me to take this so hard, but this boy’s death has affected me deeply, and there is no craft left in me, only a deflated sense of despair.

I’ve not written a word since I learned of his death, and, previously, I wrote every day. There have been no notes, no plotting, no jotting down of ideas, nothing. Any ability as a writer I might have once had has deserted me, and I don’t have much inclination to go looking for it again.

As I sat in my car this morning, looking at the spot where his life faded, wishing he were still here and this grief was absent from all our lives, a line from a book I’ve read, (I don’t know where I remember it from, and if you know, please tell me) popped into my head.

“Grief is not for the dead, it is for the living, for the dead have no care and the living must go on.”

I don’t know who said it, and I won’t try and take credit for it, but it is true. Our friend is gone, but we remain, and the way must be forward.

How, I asked myself as these ideas moved sluggishly in my head, do I accomplish the reclamation of my craft when this grief won’t let me be.

The only answer I could come up with was the same as the question: The Craft.

So, I came home from a 12 hour night shift, and I wrote this out. I put in as much of my own feeling as I could, and tried to give you an idea of why I feel this way. I got these lines down, crafted these words, in hopes that you would read them and understand my grief, and by doing so would help me carry a little sliver of this pain. I would not unburden myself completely, but I sure could use some help with the weight.

I think, now, after writing this, that I will be able to go on. That in a couple of days, once I’ve marched in Adrian’s memorial, and the final brick of closure is in place, the stories might be inclined to come back.

For me to claim that I will spend my career writing in his memory would be stupid and pretentious; his closest memories are for people who were dearer to him than I.

But I promise you this: I won’t forget, either.

Thanks for stopping by, and helping me shoulder the load. And please, if you will, have a good thought for Adrian.