We are in a cafe. I blush and stutter. I look through my eyelashes at our neighbours, laughing into their lattes. I murmur, fearing their ears.
We are at my house. I breathe in and unseal my lips in a tiny gesture of anticipation. We are friends, confidantes. You are unshockable in the presence of my grief and rage. But now I am aware of the couch we sit on, the bedrooms above us.
So perhaps it is better that we are in neither of those places. You are there. I am here. This is silent noise. You can adjust your features so that they appear neutral, impenetrable. No one need know that this is what you’re reading. Unless you blush too.
Because here is the thing, the topic, the theme, the issue, the matter at hand. Here is the subject of this post. It’s... it’s... it’s... sex after loss and there is no pretty or dainty or literary way to say it other than that:
Sex after loss.
And what a complicated and difficult subject to address. In grief you yearn. You yearn for a little body, a milky mouth, a tiny foot in the palm of your hand. Is there room for that other yearn, that other want? To need, to desire: they have different meanings now. And now sex becomes about another baby, or not another baby; about bodies that don’t do what they’re supposed to. Bodies mean pain, or sick, or tired. Bodies are small and covered in wires. Bodies are still and cold. Bodies are not the colour of your lover’s skin, but mottled and blue.
Some people are drawn together and some are wrenched apart.
We were wrenched apart, but still we came together. We wanted our baby and so we were naked in our nakedness. And so another baby came. But that is not a given for our kind. There is no guarantee of fertility or of the end result. The end result: the one that seemed so certain to me all those years ago as I stomped up the stairs of the sexual health clinic in second hand army boots, for condoms and pills and other armour.
We are all different. You might believe that my kind of sex neither takes its appropriate form nor serves its appropriate function. You might have stomped up stairs for the same reason I did, or you might find that abominable. You might have loved it, or not. You might have shared it with many people, or with one. It’s political, it’s personal, it’s universal, it’s fucking everywhere. There’s fucking everywhere. In the same way that in those early weeks after Iris died every woman was pregnant, every commercial was for baby paraphernalia, every goddam Facebook status update came with a fuzzy ultrasound photo. Everywhere, everywhere, everywhere, until sex WAS loss and its expression evidence of the distance between us.
I pause and exhale. My hands push in to my eye sockets. I wish we were in that cafe, or at my house, or better still at a bar with an infinite line of tequila shots and a cute bartender, and I would shout ‘SEX!’ too loudly, and everyone else would blush, and we would cackle instead of cry.
But instead you are there, and I am here, and now I have to ask: how was it for you?
Has sex changed for you in your grief? Why? How? In what way? Be frank, be euphemistic, be anonymous, be however you want to be, but please tell me.