You survive this phase, somehow, when every breath is pain and every memory is anguish, and eventually you somehow put your heart back into your body with your own two aching hands, and you close your eyes and you wait for the breath and colour to flood back into the world.
Then, you endure - the knives are no longer quite as sharp, and you pick at scabs with the points of butterknives, and then if a little trickle of blood comes you mop it up with tears and you get on with it because life goes on and that which you lost becomes buried in the days, and then weeks, and then months, which are piling up behind you.
At some point grief becomes stone.
A little further down the line you might pick up this stone and marvel at what the passage of time has done to it, like waves throwing a pebble against a shore until the water and the earth, between them, grind it smooth, edgeless, if you pick it up and turn it in your hands you can't find the places that used to cut you... except in the enduring memory that they were there. There is an ancientness to it, a resignation, all the jagged edges of old pain tumbled into a silky curve which doesn't always feel like stone, it feels like something organic, something that might have been alive once rather than being rock and stone and bone.
And in a way it was. Grief is the life in the stone...
And in the end you reach a point where you look into a hole left inside yourself, and you find that memory has dissolved in tears, and it's all hardened into glass - something you can see through, something that still starts the hot tears at the back of your eyes if you think about it, but something you can no longer touch. Grief becomes memory of pain, and memory of pain becomes a numb spot on your soul.
Twenty one years ago today, I lost her. My angel. My best-loved. My grandmother.
Twenty one years ago today.
And the grief is a stone, with its edges smoothed by the passage of time.
And yet I can still remember her face, and her voice, and her smile, and still the tears can come.
I love you, Grandma. I always will. I carry your love for me with me always, like a talisman.
The grief may blunt, and smooth, and fade. But I will miss you, I will miss you until the day I close my own eyes to follow you on that road you took twenty one years ago today.