There's been a lot of pressure in my life lately and it has exhausted me.
It's hard to describe the pressure of grief. Grief is not really a feeling, it's form of consciousness and as grief occupies one's consciousness, seeing things, perceiving things, responding to things, everything is not just colored by grief, but grief becomes the engine that runs everything.
Grief has dominated our household since David died on November 27th. Grief determines when the Deke and I talk; what we eat; when we eat; what we even have to do with each other. The grief sits over our household like a bulky quilt and it presses down on us.
It's exhausting. Especially for the Deke, but, ultimately, for both of us.
Bringing a school term to an end imposes a different kind of pressure on my life, a pressure I'm more familiar with, but less capable of fighting off the older I get.
The main pressure of finishing off a school quarter comes from the unrelenting push of time. My students feel it first, and most acutely.
My students labor under multiple pressures that originate outside school: they work, tend to sick children, work out divorces, negotiate with roommates, get laid off, lose their homes, get sick, and so on.
But, no matter what pressures life outside of school imposes on them, time, as measured by the unforgiving, inflexible doomsaying academic calendar, closes in on my students, robbing them of sleep, fraying their nerves, tempting them with panic, and striking them with fear.
I bend all I can. I extend deadlines, accept late papers, email students, do all I can to help them succeed, whether by earning the grade they desire or just helping them get through the course.
Then my deadline for submitting grades approaches. Late papers keep flying in. The work piles up, but the deadline remains constant, hectoring me, pressing down on me, exhausting me.
I'm not complaining. I'm stating the facts. It's the way things are at the end of the quarter. This fall's end of the quarter was more difficult than usual because the usual pressure of finishing was compounded by the grief of David's death.
I haven't been able to write. That's what this is all about. Even as I write this sentence and it's only 8:36 in the evening, I'm fading. It's Monday. I got grades in Tuesday, but had another day full of late papers to read on Wednesday and each of those students' grade, the one I submitted the night before, had to be changed. Finally, on Thursday I could do household tasks. Buy a new washing machine. Donate a run down car to charity. Get a haircut. Take care of things. It's 8:39, now, and I feel the weight of fatigue. I'm going to fall asleep soon.
But, the whole point of this post is to say that I'm back to writing again. I'm tired, but not too tired to write now, the way I have been for the last two weeks.
There will be a lot more to come.
I hope you'll read it.