Brief Thoughts on Grief and Senses

Today has come and gone for the last fifteen years in much the same painful way for me as before: flashes of laughter caused by memories, streams of tears also caused by memories, a weariness in my muscles and bones for short spells caused by the lack of new memories.

And then, it passes.

This year, the anniversary of my grandmother's death caught me on my emotional heels. Someone I had recently met has unexpectedly and suddenly died. She and her friend are my neighbors at one of the farmers' markets where Queer Chocolatier sells and I felt like the three of us were nearly neighbors in a truer spirit. We'd catch up, shoot the breeze, nag and complain and laugh, talk about all the dogs walking up to their booth, and talk about chocolate. Lisa got the news during our market this past weekend that Jill had had a massive heart attack.

Hours later, she was gone. As I did my clumsy best to console Lisa and be present (via text) for her, Lisa instead consoled me by saying how much Jill enjoyed my chocolate.

It made me smile but bittersweetly.

People tend to say things, well-meaning things, during the grieving process. One of the things I have heard is "she can still hear you." Another is "she's looking after you." It hit me today, unlike any other day in the last decade and a half, no one talks about the other senses that the deceased may be still connected with and using.

Right now, taste is the sense that I am consumed with. 

I've frequently mourned the meals missed by my grandma since her passing. I used to wish aloud for Grandma to have had a plate of such-and-such meal I'd just made. But honestly, those wishes were fairly selfish and an indulgence of my ongoing battle with a need for validation.

Today, I heard myself wish for my grandma to taste my chocolates. And I wished it for her, not for my own validation or need for affirmation. Which might sound incredibly full of myself, and to a degree that is possible, but the ideas of her hearing my words or thoughts and seeing me from an unknown vantage point feel more selfish than for my imagining her tasting my truffles. Taste is a sense that seems incredibly personal and unique and challenging to articulate beyond blunt basics of (dis)approval. Taste is for you.

Jill got to taste my chocolates. She bought from me weekly when I'd see her, even after she, blessedly, caught me in an error in my making truffles and was extremely polite and kind in her feedback. In retrospect, it reminds me of something my grandma would have done for me. But the veil keeps her from a chance to taste them herself and that has made today an impossibly sad day for me.

Today will pass, probably with more tears than previous todays did, but today will come back again and maybe one day there will be more laughter in place of the tears.