Grief Is the Thing With Tentacles

Living with an autoimmune disease is weird. The days are long and can be lonely. I don’t always know how to fill them.

I almost signed up to be in an online gift show, selling my cards. But I was afraid this disease might force me to back out, and I hate doing that. Maybe next year, we said, for the fourth year in a row.

I like writing, but sometimes, my heart feels too fragile to bring the words out, to put them up in public.


This election has brought back so many memories of my childhood in Detroit. The neighbourhood I grew up in was fearful and mean.

Our neighbours were enthusiastic for the war in Vietnam. And racist. Evangelically so. They thought we were communists because my brothers refused to go and fight in an unjust war. And because we didn’t spew hate at the people who didn’t look like us.

Racism is such an ugly thing. As much as it blights the lives of those it is directed against, it blights the souls of those who choose it. My parents chose a different path, and for that, we were hated.

People here don’t understand the division and anger. They don’t know how so many could vote for him again. I don’t understand it either, but more than fifty years later, it feels so familiar and reduces me to tears every time I think of it.

Biden’s win is just the start of a long hard slog to better things. And the fact that the news takes me back to my childhood means that no gains anywhere are ever permanent. We cannot let ourselves be complacent.


My niece had an online baby shower last week. And it was really lovely. As we were all arriving and settling, I introduced myself as the guest of honour’s aunt.

One of the guests asked, “Are you the one with all the children?”

It was a standard question, kindly meant. But it zapped a nerve I didn’t even know was still raw. And all week, in lulls in the conversation, I’ll turn to Alan and ask, “Are you the one with all the children?”

It’s been thirty-two years since we abandoned the quest. We’ve built a great life together. It doesn’t often bother me. But then, one of grief’s tentacles reaches out from the string bag into which I’ve wrestled it and wraps itself around my heart.

Again.


Some books I’ve been reading:

How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell

This is a wonderful book that I don’t really know how to categorize. The subtitle is: Resisting the Attention Economy. And it is about that. It’s also about the joy of sitting in parks and learning the names of birds. It rambles and pauses and circles back. I want to read it again, it’s that good.

Our Syria by Itab Azzam and Dina Mousawi

It’s a cookbook that I read like a novel. I’ve been cooking up the recipes, and not one has disappointed. You can read my review on Medium if you like.

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan

This is the first in a series of mysteries set in Mumbai. In these days when travel is nearly impossible, these books will take you someplace warm and sunny. The characters are quite likeable, especially Ganesha, the baby elephant Inspector Chopra’s uncle gives him. If you’re looking for something lighthearted, this is it.

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