Time heals-but you can never replace a best friendby Charlotte Cory / October 20, 1997 / Leave a comment
On tuesday 3rd March 1992, at 12:30pm, my best friend died. Nothing had prepared me for that moment. Or for the grief that rushed upon me like an incoming tide, wave after wave of blackness and sorrow that knocked me completely off balance. I had known her practically all her life. We had shared everything, the highs and the lows. She was there when I got married and when my first novel was published. She consoled me through the many broken love affairs that scarred my twenties. She was my confidante, my ally, totally loyal, totally forgiving, always enthusiastic. She was beautiful and gentle. She loved me more than anyone else in the whole wide world. I authorised her death. Indeed, I paid for it.
They say time heals, and what “they say” is true enough. When I think of her now, unbidden tears do still occasionally spring to my eyes but what shocks me, scares me even, is the emotional devastation she left in her immediate wake. My grief was absurd. Grendel was, after all, only a dog. She was not my partner, my child or my parent. People expect to be overwhelmed with sorrow when a person close to them dies. But a dog? It was absurd. It felt absurd at the time-and the absurdity of the grief made the grieving worse. The more I tried to contain it, the worse it got. I thought I was going mad.
No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is
like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning… There is a sort of invisible blanket
between the world and me. I find it hard
to take in what anyone says…
I read this standing in Waterstone’s. I was wearing a duffel coat against the March chill but I stood wrapped in that “invisible blanket,” conscious of people around but at the same time oblivious. I had come to the bookshop because, ten days after Grendel’s demise, I was so restless I could not bear to be at home. I had lost all interest in my work, the radio, television. Above all, I could not bear to listen to music. If I looked at a newspaper it was only to scan the deaths columns hoping to spot the names of those who had died…