It’s the first day I am visiting my brother and sister-in-law and I am on my back play-fighting with their dog. I have the toy above my head. I have the toy behind my knees. I have the toy in the air. We are making a scene. In good natured fun, he scratches my hand and the game ends. I clean my hand and realize I will have a half circle sharkbite-esque scratch on my hand for a few days.
That night, I am washing my hands again in the bathroom sink. Suddenly, the water that felt warm becomes piercing hot and my scratched hand feels like it's on fire. I jerk my arm back. Note to self: maybe don’t put hot water on the top of this hand until it's healed.
The same scenario plays out the next day each time I use the restroom until finally, that night, I tell myself I will notice the water getting hotter and turn up the cold faucet. The water feels pleasant until it immediately doesn’t and I jump back like I’ve been scalded. I cannot understand why this feels so abrupt and sudden.
Again, I play out this same scene the day after—convinced I’ll notice when the water starts to become hot and instead, shocked when it once again stings my healing hand.
I’m washing up again when I think about a slow burn. I think about how unaware I am of the water gradually rising in temperature until it is too late… until it has burned my skin… until my hand is in pain.
If I’d immediately turned the faucet to hot, hot water, I would know better as to add cold before I washed them. But this slow burn… this gradual uptick in severity somehow continued to catch me off guard… even when I was looking for it.
Sometimes the heaviest things are the things that catch you off guard on a Tuesday afternoon when everything else feels like it was going just fine. Sometimes it’s the slow burns that sting the most. And sometimes, it's impossible to prepare for it—even when you know it's inevitable.
It doesn’t hurt at all. And then it hurts all at once.
This is a story about knowing the ending and letting it hurt you anyway. About realizing you might get burned and taking the chance. About being prepared for the worst and still acknowledging that “the worst” doesn’t feel super great either.
No matter how obvious, expected, and gradual it was—you’re allowed to grieve for a slow burn.