I've started reading apocalyptic fiction again. The Twelve was recently released (and purchased for my Kindle) and at the local "Friends of the Library Sale" I picked up a copy of Guillermo Del Toro's vampire book The Strain. I haven't read books in this literary vein since last November, right after All the Evil. My immersion into this genre last year was a symptom of my grief: I needed to read books where everyone else's lives were tragically destroyed so that I didn't feel isolated in my trauma. Slowly I made my way out of these worlds and into less fragmented ones - for a while this summer I was voraciously reading several series that focused on strong women coping with unfair/ridiculous life circumstances. It was a sign of my healing psyche, as I was self-identifying with these plucky women and also desperately wishing that I would somehow attain magical powers. (To be fair: I wouldn't have caught the deeper implications of my reading choices unless my therapist had helped me to see it. She's been invaluable to me for the last two years.)
But I've fallen down the rabbit hole back into these ruined worlds with their desolate landscapes and it only seems appropriate for the time of year. November 14th of 2011 is when Cliff's trial started, November 17th is when he was convicted and November 18th was when he was sentenced to 90 years in prison. I haven't been swamped with sadness like I thought I would be; I haven't been despondent at night like I expected to feel. Mostly, I am feeling detached, like an outside observer watching the recordings of another person's life. I suspect this detachment is something my brain has done to protect me, but I'm aware of it now because the detachment isn't complete: the vampire books are the sign of a "leak" in my psychic seals.
So I've started "repeating" myself and time is about to start throwing more repetitions at me. I'm reading apocalyptic books again. Cliff won't be participating in the holidays with me - again. I'm in charge of my own birthday - again. And though I expect these days to have pain in them, they will be the dull pain of repeated blows, of aches brought on by cold weather and heavy rains. I'm mostly done with the surprising pains of time after a tragedy and I am glad for that. I expect now that grief will be more like a cold wind than a sharp knife. Less 3D Imax screens and more old VHS or fragile photographs taken long ago.
If you're the praying kind, throw some prayers my way as well as to Cliff and to all of our families. I know that I'm not the only one walking into this week and the days ahead with ghosts of tragedy past perched upon my shoulders. We're about to start walking familiar roads, repeating steps we took not so long ago.