Here's the story
: you are stuck in a crevasse of grief, a glacier of loss looming over you. Cold like a night in the desert. No end in sight, no rescue party dispatched. Numb.
One day someone presses a pill into your hand. Sleep-drugged and annoyed you swallow. You go back to sleep. You stay there for a lot of hours.
You get up at odd hours for water and cold cereal, the only food that doesn't make you feel sick to your stomach. You smoke. A lot. You do not look at yourself in the mirror, ever. You can tell by your own smell that you need a shower but you do not care.
Every morning a person comes into your room and coaxes you to take a pill. A tiny pill, blue as a cloudless sky, blue as the eyes of your absent husband.
After a few days, several days (you don't know how many days), you wake up and the sun is still in the sky. This surprises you. Also surprising is your desire for actual food - for bacon, for meat, for something to chew that is not styrofoam-crunchy. You eat, you go back to bed. You sleep.
The difference is that you dream. You haven't dreamed in weeks, months. You don't trust the dreams, exactly, but something about them being there in your head is satisfying. It's the same feeling you get when furniture that's been out of place is returned to its proper position. As though someone got into your brain and did some cleaning - under the cushions, rugs, windowsills of your subconscious. Pushed things aside, scrubbed, moved them back to order.
You aren't sleeping so much now, and you don't cry every day. That's the other thing - you have days again. You wake up in the mornings and sleep when it's dark, almost as though you are a normal person.
You start to want showers. You aren't smoking a pack a day anymore. You're going outside sometimes, blinking in the sunlight like a released hostage. And you are. You are a released hostage. The past wasn't able to detain, to behead you after all.
It's such a tiny pill. Some mornings you look at it hard as if by looking hard you can figure out where it hides its magic. It's so small to be a life preserver. You are amazed that it can hold you up, keep you floating, bring you to shore.
You think, Fuck you, Tom Cruise. You and your capped teeth and fake grin and Scientology. You think, Fuck you, ex-husband. You think I can do this, I can have a life, I can do things with actual people, normal people, and I can do these things with something that approximates happy.
It isn't sexy to be happy. Sexy is turmoil and wounded eyes and, let's face it, depression is the new deep. It isn't sexy, this happy, but it's comfortable, like vanilla ice cream or watching Casablanca. You surrender with great gladness to mediocrity, you leave the scarred carapace of grief behind you. You choose to smile at strangers.
You remember how to dance and you do so often, clumsy and laughing and knowing how beautiful you still are when you are flushed and laughing and silly. You paint your toenails for the shock of fuschia when you look down in the showers that you are taking again. You are amused that fuschia thrills you. You are amused to be thrilled by anything again. You look in the mirror and touch your face gently. You are your own lover.
You start to trust yourself again. You thank whatever god is out there for the tiny life preserver.
Sometimes things hurt, but it's the kind of hurt you get when you warm frostbitten fingers under hot running water. It's the hurt of things coming back to life.
You start to move again. There is life at the end of the tunnel. You want it.