by Debbonnaire Kovacs

[An apology for not posting for a few weeks]

Grief, I've decided, is like a giant fun house. Not fun, at all, just full of traps.

You're walking along and suddenly everything goes all stretchy and distorted, like one of those nightmares where sound becomes something from a monster movie and movement is no longer subject to the laws of time and space. Oh, right, you realize. It's one of those wavy mirrors, that's all. Maybe an amplifier with all its knobs turned all the way up. You try to wake up, can't, and discover . . . this is no nightmare.

This is real.
She's really gone. She's really not coming back.

You clamp your hands over your ears to hide from the screams, but it doesn't work because they're coming from inside you. So you bend every muscle to dragging your legs through the quicksand that seems to be holding them, and finally you can inch your way out of that particular section of the fun house. For two minutes, you're better.

Then something jumps out and shrieks at you, and your heart tries to escape its cage of ribs. You throw your arms over your head, crying like a baby, but there's no Mama to comfort you, so the crying just goes on. When it finally stops, you try to lift your head, which now weighs 200 pounds, mop up your face, and make a teeth-gritted dash through the first door you see.

Hurrah! You're on the porch! Out! There's sunshine! You take a deep breath — and your lungs seize up like an old car engine running without oil. It was an illusion. You're not on the porch. There is no porch. There is no sunshine. It's the reflection of the flames, coming closer, coming to consume you.

I am not sure how long this goes on. Great loss first flung me into this sub-quantum Dali landscape almost a year ago. I thought I was getting close to the back door. I thought all I had to pass was the claustrophobic hallway, where the walls squeeze you until you can't breathe. And maybe the tightrope over the broken glass. I thought I would be out soon.

Wrong.

There was a sudden subatomic explosion and I time-warped right back to the beginning. Here we go again. Familiarity is not a help–it increases the horror. I know what's around that bend.

I'm not going. You can't make me.