five: wail

i don’t know what i think about this word. except it makes me feel so, so sad.

i know i likely wailed as a baby, and maybe as a very little girl, before i learned it wasn’t safe. but i’m not sure i have ever allowed myself to wail, as an adult. i feel like i haven’t. but just writing this word makes me feel unsettled, makes me hear it in my mind, a high-pitched, soulful moan, and somehow i think that wailing must be the purest expression of grief.

so it’s surprising that i haven’t done it in the past three years, really.  i’ve howled on rare occasion, scared myself doing it, actually. i’ve keened. i’ve sobbed and wept and choked and bawled and cried in all means of gut-wrenching ways, because one of the things i’ve learned? is that there are oceans of grief in me.

but i feel like wailing is uncharted territory…except as i wrote that, i am realizing that no, that’s not true.

i do remember wailing, i don’t think it was that long ago, maybe this summer? i don’t know what exactly precipitated it, but i was alone, my family was away i think (?) and i was in my bed, and the sounds that were coming out of me…i didn’t even know i could make. they were wobbly sorts of siren sounds, long and mournful oooooohhs that happened with every exhale, and they came somehow from my chest and my heart and stomach and forehead and diaphragm all at the same time… and yeah, i remember how the tears seemed to pour out from everywhere, like constant torrential streams down my face and into my ears and pooling above my collarbones. and it didn’t stop for ages, for almost an hour, i think. and when it did finally wind down, from those original prolonged, shaky sounds to whispery, shuddery ones, i switched out my sopping pillow and closed my eyes, and slept dreamlessly for a few hours. and i felt clean, somehow, in the morning, and empty, and my eyes were slits but it was all clearer than before the wailing.

it’s so weird, that only as i started writing this post did i recall that experience, but also, that it just occurred to me that bob marley’s band was called the wailers.

(now that would’ve been a less sad, more interesting post. but it’s late, and i think that’s enough from me for now. except here’s one of my favourite versions of one of my favourite songs that bob and his wailers sang…)

2 thoughts on “five: wail

  1. Reading this made me so sad this morning. I just wanted to go back in time and transport myself to Canada, so that I could just quietly scoot in next to you and be there with you so you weren’t alone in it. Just so sad, sweet friend.


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