The Grief Ends Here

They say grief never leaves us. But today I learned that a certain kind of grief does eventually come to an end.

I recently lost one of my best friends—the one I’ve known the longest, for more than half of my life. They are alive and well, just to be clear. But our friendship is dead.

Over the last several years, that person has been shoveling dirt in secret, digging a hole that would become the gravesite of our decades-old friendship. Meanwhile, they have been lining their pockets, building a life I never knew they wanted for themselves. This was someone I grew up with, someone I considered family, with whom I shared my deepest secrets, closer to me than even my own brother.

I should have known. I should have noticed the symptoms, read the signs. But they were sly and careful enough to ensure I was in the dark, oblivious, believing my friends were untainted by the sins of the corrupt.

I was an idiot. There were many things I neither knew nor understood about how things worked within the system, and, as a result, did not catch a whiff of the smoke in time to kill the fire. When you trust someone with your whole heart, when they made you believe they stood for the same things you do, you would not think them capable of burning down your own damn house.

We fault people who have been duped into questionable agreements by suspicious strangers, but what of us who believed in people we loved greatly, but in the end still found ourselves robbed?

Ah, but here is where it gets amusing: that person has broken my heart before, when we were much, much younger. And I forgave them, dismissing the incident as a mere consequence of our immaturity. A regrettable decision, in retrospect.

I understand now that love, along with everything good that comes with it, in the hands of the wrong person, can be weaponized. That the same love that once kept you afloat on murky water can turn into the tangle of weeds that causes your drowning.

Grief is a moving train and today I arrive at the final stop.

I get off and find myself in a desolate landscape that reeks of death and decay. The sky threatens rain. Dragging a heavy suitcase behind me, I trudge along a muddy dirt path leading to a grave pit. I unlock the suitcase. Inside it is a photograph of us sitting side by side, twenty years younger, wearing white blouses and pleated skirts the color of marigolds, smiling from ear to ear, blissfully unaware that one day, they would stab our friendship to death, and leave me with the responsibility of laying it to rest.

I bury the remains of our love. This time, not even a single tear is shed. To keep grieving is to keep loving. This is where it ends.