she brushed the strand of hair away from her face/ a tear dropping onto the order of service/ just six months ago she could never have imagined this moment./ the moment when the doctor breathed out and shuffled his papers awkwardly/ the word ‘terminal’ rattled around the room/ a pinball ricocheting from walls and floors of the office/ hurting them with each circuit of destruction./ the journey that followed took her own breath away/ and she often remembered that doctor exhaling bad news./ and now here she was being gripped by those spasms of deep, ugly love./
I don’t know what it is about grief, but you can write the most beautiful things about that one emotion – and it fascinates me. How does something so painful, birth such perfection when it comes to writing?
I’m currently listening to the audiobook of Dolly Alderton’s ‘Everything I Know About Love’ and it really struck me how beautifully she described the grief one of her friends experienced. It was so perfect that I felt my breath catch in my chest – and that is the sign of some powerful writing.
The friend she wrote about had lost her sister to leukemia, and then just a few months later her fiance broke off the engagement just two months before the wedding was supposed to take place.
It could have been a bit over-dramatic – because, let’s face it, it deserves to be! – but Dolly made the sadness so subtle that I felt it creep up on me and almost swallow me whole. That just seemed so much more effective than bashing the reader over the head with bad news.
It just got me thinking about how beautiful sadness is. It hurts like hell when it happens to us, but think of all the books and poems and songs that wouldn’t exist without this overwhelming pain.