It's been a rough few weeks and finding alone time has been difficult. I took some comfort in physics, immersing myself in my job. Since Dylan died, my physics career has given me a wonderful way to fill the time, explore the world and enjoy my own company again. But then I heard Everybody Hurts by REM, and it brought back a lot of painful memories. It's a song I've known for about as long as I can remember, and I loved it long before Dylan's death (everyone loves it, of course.) We played it at his funeral, and that made it doubly painful and doubly healing to listen to. He must have felt so alone and so helpless if he couldn't see a reason to go on living. And after he killed himself, we were all left alone together.
We all lost Dylan, but we had to deal with that loss alone, because we can't grieve for each other. Hearing this song brought back the memories of when Dylan was still alive, shortly after he died, and the years since. It's not a coincidence that I've become more insular, more guarded and more transient since losing Dylan. I don't think anyone can fill the void that Dylan's absence has left. Nothing can undo the years of hurt and the slow process of putting my life back together. I had a lot of help from a lot of people and I found many of my best friendships while I was grieving, often keep hold of them because of the grief. (When you find someone who's willing to hear you talk about bereavement one day and go for a picnic with you the next, or even from one hour to the next, you don't let go of them easily.) But even so, there has been nobody who has been at my side the whole time. I've had to find my own path, and I picked a particularly tough one. It gave me strength, hope and confidence to keep going. Having lived through all that I doubt I'll be able to ever fully commit to a relationship or be fully open with another person. I'll always find it easier to withdraw into myself, and find it harder to think that anything else has any permanence. It's as if all the things that have shaped me have already come and gone, and I was the only one to see them happen. It's almost pointless to get an impression of someone's grief and its aftermath. It's not enough to be able to fully understand what someone has been through and why they are who they are.
Anyway, here's the song, for all its power and its many interpretations. It's been there for me many times and this won't be the last time it's helped me sum up the sense of loss and then find strength.