The past two days were the worst I've ever experienced.
The grief came like a tidal wave. I tried to be brave, but it swept over me, and I lost all control. I was the stranger crying in the airport. I couldn't eat for almost 48 hours -- I can barely stomach anything still, it all makes me sick. I shuffled around, dazed, hoping this pain was just something I imagined in someone else's story.
But I made myself try -- during the wake, I spoke to the room about how when you grow up in a religious Filipino family, there's the self you present to the world and your real "dirty self," and how I never hid my "dirty self" from Erika. I reached for my friend Susan (whom I asked to go with me after Salad Bar failed) when they rolled the casket in; I cried so hard my body shook. And I stayed to watch everything, the men in green hard hats lowering Erika into the ground, covering her up until you could barely even tell that a blade of grass had been out of place, when all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and yell: No no no no no.
I came back to Seattle last night, and I am still crying in public. When people ask me how I am, I say: "Do you really want the truth?" You can only imagine what happens next.
But I am trying. I know it will take awhile -- this one-two punch of death and a breakup has very nearly destroyed me. But I want my fight back.
So I am making a promise to do one healing thing a day, even if I have to force myself out of bed, even if I have to call someone else and ask for help. I am trying so hard to learn to ask for help.
Day 1: Wednesday
The day of the wake, the first day without Salad Bar. Awful to wake up in the morning and feel nothing but a rush of loneliness. I made myself go for a trail run. Those hills -- the way they tore into my lungs and made my sides hurt. I needed that.
Day 2: Thursday
After everything was over, when I had cried more than I thought was humanly possible, I went to Susan's house. I took off my shoes. And I played in the grass with her 2-year-old daughter, kicking a soccer ball. It was perfect.
Day 3: Today
When Erika visited me last July, we discovered Cederberg Tea House. I've since become a regular. So I went back today. And they remembered her. And I told her story. And tried my best to eat.
And now this:
I feel like this city is giving me a hug -- it's March, and I'm writing on my balcony, in a tank top and sunglasses.
I'm still crying, but I will take this as a good omen. The loneliness can't last forever.