In The Weeds
“In The Weeds” examines the messy, non-linear grief process and challenges us to lean into the pain, discomfort, and deeply human urge to get through it as swiftly as possible. E Belleau serves as grief outreach coordinator at Transitions LifeCare. They hail from rural Pennsylvania and came to the Triangle by way of a year-long volunteer program. They have worked with a number of populations including HIV, ALS, and inpatient hospice patients. E enjoys reading, baking more than they can eat, and chasing after their toddler.
In The Weeds
I take my laptop out to my backyard to work from my hammock, thinking the Vitamin D might help my brain fog. As I walk down the three steps to the yard, I am overwhelmed by the yardwork piling up. The warmth and sun that my body ached for moments ago, now the producer of dread. I grew up in rural Northwestern Pennsylvania, where there are more cows per capita than stop lights and where the winters span Halloween through Mother’s Day. The thick heat of Southern summers has been a welcomed change, but the thought of cursing my lawnmower through another summer distracts me from the brief respite of spring.
Arms akimbo, I stand ankle-deep in a sea of green and purple weeds. Unsightly sprigs of chives stick out of the ground like a bad COVID haircut. How did these even get here? I should stay ahead of the curve, mow it all down to a stub so I exert less energy later. I delight in watching my toddler trot around the yard, chubby arms holding gardening hoes, pretending he’s a dinosaur. What if he trips on these weeds, now up to his knees? As I stand, eyes closed and preparing for the comedy that is homeowning on a budget, I hear buzzing. It gets louder and louder until it’s almost deafening. I take a step forward and dozens of bees lift their wings and show themselves to me. They do not scatter, but rather move on to the next weed over, pollinating, doing the work they were designed to do, ensuring that when the last signs of winter are behind me (although I know this may be another fake spring), there will be daffodils.
My life is consumed by grief. Of family. Of friends. Of failed relationships. Of life as I once knew it. Of self. Grief is my literal work and the work of my soul. It is said that the only way around grief is through it. But haven’t I been through it? What if, this time, I ignore the urge to discard the weeds? What if I ignore the note left on my door and rebel? What if I allow the weeds to grow, unsightly as they may be to my neighbors? Resist the urge to make my landscape more digestible to passersby? What if, instead of devaluing my weeds, I see their purpose? What if today, I am a dinosaur too, and this is my forest to make home in?