There’s something I’d like to share, and I hope sharing it with you is appropriate; it goes like this: If I could travel through time and change things, how far back would I go? About a year ago, I’d go very far back, take another run at basically my whole life, make sure that a sibling who died to an accident doesn’t, make sure that harm I could only recognize in hindsight doesn’t get done, that sort of thing. (1/2)

(2/2) These days, I wouldn’t go back more than a couple months, if that. I’ve made a dear, dear friend; she and I started dating, even, and I don’t want to take any chance that we wouldn’t meet–it’s worth the potentialities and “what if"s of a live lived with more experience. But I don’t know if that’s selfish of me, or if being willing to go back in time and start over is more selfish, you know?

I sometimes have this thought as well, anon. Except my reasoning is a little more pessimistic, perhaps. Like: “I’ve done nothing significant with my life, if I went back in time I would try to be a better version of myself.”

Now, in my slightly less depressed but still pessimistic thoughts I think “my life hasn’t been completely awful, who’s to say if I went back and changed things that I wouldn’t just make things terrible or, worse, just end up doing the same exact thing.”

And so basically, I suppose what I’m saying is that being satisfied with your life–accepting what’s happened and how it’s shaped you–is a sign that you’re doing better. That mentally and emotionally, you’ve forgiven yourself, though I doubt you were at fault at all–there is always an amount of guilt that comes from losing someone close to you.

I for one am happy for you that you’ve met someone–someone that makes you want to live this life, this timeline. I don’t think it’s selfish of you at all, even if you were capable of time travel.

You’re allowed to be happy, anon, you’re allowed to be satisfied with your life.

Yes it’s sad to have lost loved ones, that will always be a wound that scars us, but not being constantly weighed down by regret and grief is not the same as being selfish.

I don’t know if this is reassuring for you, anon, or it it’s helpful in anyway, but thank you for sharing and I hope this life continues to be one you want to embrace.

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Um, if you can, would you please write something about an overwhelming grief? The sort of thing where you can’t even cry because it’s too big to deal with? I’d really appreciate anything you could do for that subject.

Grief is a very personal thing, my friend.
There are layers to it,
levels,
variations in how deeply,
how long a loss will pain you.

I’ve had the sharp,
distracting pain of a sudden
but expected loss.
A paper cut,
skinned knees,
the side effects of
living
loving
losing.

And the screeching,
all-encompassing loss:
car crashes
and broken glass,
bones,
shards through skin,
muscle,
sinew.
Scars even afterwards,
aching in the cold.

Grief draws closer,
intimate,
visceral,
breath stealing,
heart stopping,
organs shutting down.

I will not ask how you are, my friend,
only if I may help you survive.

///

She doesn’t cry often, but she does do so easily, deliberately, spending tears like shiny coins in a gum ball machine. Better to release them when she chooses than to hoard them, hold them off, keep them at bay until the dam breaks. She feels her tears oncoming like the tide, the salty air and the change in pressure, ozone sparkling behind her eyelids. When that happens, she doesn’t batten down the hatches, she redirects them and channels them–tearjerking music with nostalgic, haunting melodies, fictional lovers with doomed relationships–emotional irrigation for the fruit trees in her heart.

And so when the time comes…
when the time goes…
her eyes remain startlingly dry.

///

“You’re allowed to cry, you know?” someone says, and you grunt in response.

Of course you know you’re allowed to cry; how irritating. You don’t need someone’s permission to cry.

You just aren’t. Haven’t.

Won’t.

Not for a while. Not for a long while.

Maybe not ever.

You feel hollowed out, as if your brain has shut off higher functions, higher feelings. You’ve been slouching from day to day, no momentum to propel you forward.

You’ll restart, soon, living instead of just subsiding, but you might not be the same.