“Not Good at Grieving” by WITS Student Delilah Ivanek
October 12, 2021
i don’t think i’m good at grieving.
not my dead friend, not the versions of me that i’ve grown out of, and especially not the life i had before. i’ve been sitting here for thirty seven minutes trying to write. my h key is broken and there are tears on my cheek and my back hurts from my shitty posture. but i’m still here because i don’t know what to write and everytime i start a line i abandon it. but the point here isn’t my commitment issues, its that im bad at grieving.
a year ago was the last day of in person school. i have two pictures from that day, and i look back at them every day. i play the day over again and again. i know exactly what i wore. i know that first period was fine. i don’t really remember second period, but i know that halfway through third period the intercom came on and told the teachers to check their emails. my desk was close to the teachers, and i remember watching her open the email and her face change. she wouldn’t tell us what it was and i know that made me mad. i remember lunch, my senior friend running past me at the mexican restaurant in the armory, yelling across the room if i was ready for two weeks off. in spanish we got the paper that told us school was closed for two weeks, and in ap stats my teacher said when we got back we’d have to really work on catching up to be ready for the ap test. i walked to the bus, alone because the boy i usually took it with stayed home that day. i called my friend and talked the whole bus ride home.
is that a stage of grief? obsessing over every detail of every minute of the last day before you lost whatever you’re grieving? it should be. maybe if it was i would be good at grieving.
i don’t really know what else to write. i’ve spent fifty three minutes listening to the same song on repeat, trying to blink away tears. everything i write feels fake or dramatic, like a poorly written high school show. that’s kinda what this is, a really shitty coming of age movie.
i wish this was a movie. i want this to be the sad part. forty five minutes in, with a really sad song playing, the world stops for a minute. or in our case, a year. but then everything is okay. i want the climax to be over. i want our end to be happy. i want everything to be fixed so we can have those movie moments. i want to sneak out at night and sit in empty parks and play truth or dare. i want to go for long walks and have a picnic. i want to eat lunch together with my friends again, sit at blue water and talk about meaningless petty shit and flirt and steal bites of their food. i want to run to the monorail and squeeze in next to them. i want to walk on pine street and wait for the bus and feel the wind blow my hair and laugh. i want to run down the streets with my backpack bouncing and go to kmart and buy cheap snacks and sit and eat. i want beechers and humbows and bubble tea and quincy’s fries. i want to stay up late and laugh and hear her play dragon ball durag and tell secrets. i want to go to the beach and kick a ball around and sit by the fire. i want to cuddle up in a million blankets and watch horror movies. i want to sit on the floor in the loft and lean on his shoulder doing my homework last minute. i want to whisper secrets at the water fountain. i want to take the train or a bus and sit there and fight over who’s gonna sit in a different row. i want to go out to dinner and walk around the city at night. i want to share airpods and hear a new song. i want to get lost and go stargazing and be hugged. i want to dye my hair. i want to skip class. i want to get dressed fancy and go to a dance and then leave and play on the playground.
but as much as i wish it was, this isn’t the movies. i obsess over those too. if i was to psychoanalyze myself (or really just think about it), i’d probably say that i obsessively watch coming of age movies because i have romanticized the teenage experience since childhood and now thats gone, now that i can’t have one like the movies, i watch them to replace it. see? i’m not good at grieving.
Delilah Ivanek wrote this poem while a student at The Center School with WITS Writer-in-Residence Corinne Manning. Delilah read the poem to open for Lauren Groff, who was part of SAL’s Literary Arts Series on October 17, 2021.