The beasts we share
“People say there's no wrong way to do grief. And I have a 'Yeah, but...'” she says. “You gotta do it, you can't fight or flight from it. That dragon is living inside you now, blowing fire. It's useless to pretend that dragon isn't there. You have to figure out how to live with your grief, talk to it, feed it and water it. Keep the stall clean so it can take care of itself, very much like a farmer tends to a cow. It's a big job and a lot of it is shovelling shit.”
The job is made easier, she knows, by sharing the shovelling. “Helping soothe someone who is only a year into it is not just a way of helping that other person, it soothes my beast as well. It’s animal husbandry not only for your dragon, but mine too.”
Stephanie has her own relationship to grief, and as a fellow novelist, she wondered: is it taxing to support Notes for the Everlost? Beyond the usual pressures and anxieties of being an author promoting any book, does it feel like a burden to have to time-travel back to the IWK for every publicity conversation or event?
I had to think about that. It’s such a thoughtful question. So far, it’s been an honour. Do I have to retread still-raw ground every time I talk about the book or connect with readers? Yes. But everyone else has their own raw ground, too. Stephanie and I talked about her losses, her own existential puzzles, and even though they’re distinct from mine—as our own unruly beast always is to someone else’s—but there’s so much that’s familiar. When we share the little victories and trip-ups along this road of reckoning what it means to be alive, we breathe better together.