Grief is the process of a unorganized mind to reorganize itself; to collect, classify, and reassemble thought patterns disturbed by some outside force. The Andorians are known to intermittently proclaim their innermost thoughts during their grieving process, without provocation or precedence. Ferengi are known to jump, exclaim obscenities, and, in the females, attempt to tear their own ears off. Romulans are known to destroy their clothing, rip the hair from their heads, and never make a sound. Humans are known to cry.
These are physical reactions to mental disturbances. Side effects of the untrained mind. Expressions of barbarism.
To avoid displaying such weakness, insecurities, and otherwise illogical actions, Vulcans meditate on their grief. The meditation process may take a few hours, perhaps even days. Unless the Vulcan in question is particularly untrained or does not adhere to the teaching of Surak, the process is brief, controlled, and contained. They will rise from their meditation as unaffected by grief, as any other emotion.
On star-date 2371.05, Spock felt James Tiberius Kirk die.
It had been morning, 0934 in Vulcan hours, on Shi’Kahr. Spock had only risen from his early morning meditation. On leave from his duties as a Vulcan Ambassador, he had spent the past 3.79 days re-familiarizing himself with a city that he hadn’t visited in nearly 3.4 years. His next journey back to Romulan Space, he estimated, would take approximately 1.3 years before he would be released again to go back home.
And while Spock could not admit nostalgia of the location of his birth, just as he could not admit relief in elevated temperatures or contentment in the landscape of pyroxene and pladioclase rocks turned red by the copious amounts of geothite in the soil, it was truism to all Vulcans that a tempered mind was made more tempered by familiarity. His thoughts flowed easily through meditation here; emotions sifted and collected, then to be disposed.
He felt the tremors first, as if the universe had shuddered at the death, bringing almost seismic waves of most alarming sensations. There was confusion, pain, release, then nothing. Spock had stumbled and fallen to his knees next to the bed he had only risen from 2.3 hours prior. His head echoing words and images; bridges, a control panel, It was…fun…rock. Rock that was wind blasted and red. Rocks from an ancient desert, now exposed bones on in an arid climate. Rocks piled together purposefully, carefully.
Jim was dead.
A strange thought, considering his death had been logged 78 years prior. But this was resolute, final, unwavering truth in non-existence. When Spock had learned of Kirk’s death initially, he had felt no change in his perception of the universe. To say he did not believe what the Starfleet report said would be illogical. He had surmised that, simply, that it was impossible to eradicate Kirk from this plane. That even if his body were to cease functioning, perhaps his spirit, his katra, was too resilient to destroy.
But Spock was mistaken. A katra can die, especially one of a human, so weak in comparison to a Vulcan’s. When Jim’s katra died, it created a vacuum in the universe to all those who knew him, who had been changed by him. Spock had fallen to his knees and found himself being pulled inward not by his own volition, but my this vacuum, this black hole of not-Jim. Spock entered meditation immediately and found his grief.
A twisting emotion, with purpose to cloud judgments and dull senses. Spock’s flow of thoughts was a tangled mess of confusion. Events from decades ago flickered before his eyes, bright and glaring. Words came in disjointed phrases I have and always will be yours. It gives me emotional security. And nothing can replace it or him. Sometimes a feeling is all we humans have to go on. This…simple feeling. Jim…Out of order, uncontrolled, the barrage felt endless in Spock’s mind. Painful, in the most intimate of ways, illogical, irrational, destructive.
Spock’s grief was a monster, bred and nourished on a lifetime of memories and sensations. It was not the same monster that Spock encountered when his mother died. That monster had been tamed before she even passed. She had been old, ill, and ready to pass. The tie was cut cleanly and efficiently. But this, this was antithesis of efficiency. This devoured and thrashed and projected emotions long contained, emotions long categorized, emotions long and longing and gone.
For a Vulcan to contain grief, to eradicate it, to systematically break it into smaller parts to be synthesized and set aside, they must erase. Erase the memories of sickbay beds, dying pulses, bright red blood. Erase sneers and an anger too quick, too violent. Erase words unsaid, words over-said. Erase warm eyes on a cold starship. Erase strong hands. Erase embrace, in too much contact, not enough contact. Erase that smile…gentle curve of lips, narrowing of eyes, looking from beneath lashes, tilting the head, broad teeth, escaped laughter, sighs of relief…that smile. That mind of coordinated chaos, blinding insight, fathomless emotion. A mind touched and untouched. A mind always felt and never felt. A mind to ease, to sink into. A mind alone. To erase the grief, Spock had to erase Jim. Erase all of him, everything of him.
Until there was no Jim.
Spock meditated on his grief for ten weeks.
When he rose, he felt as if his mind had been sand-blasted. Worn, raw, clean. Thoughts were clear, precise. He got to work organizing his materials, sending out missives, and apologized to Starfleet for his absence. Though apologizing was illogical, Starfleet often needed such human recognition.
1.45 years later, Spock visited James Tiberius Kirk’s grave on Veridian III and felt nothing.
The destruction of Vulcan left no grief. No room for grief in a mind filled with screams and pain and nothingness. A ringing nothingness of a very large space meant to hold billions of lives. How could there be grief when so much was absent? So much, so quickly, vanished? When Spock witnessed the implosion of Vulcan from Delta Vega, the red matter took the stars as well. Took the biting cold, the snow. The universe was a void, an illogical void that Spock could walk freely in. So he walked until he could walk no more. He made fire, wondering if he could see the light, feel the burn.
He could not.
And it was James Tiberius Kirk that flooded the universe in color again. James Kirk who came running and crashing and exploding in sound and emotion and expression and perfect illogic. As Spock looked at that familiar face, felt that familiar kindred spirit, ten weeks of meditation were useless, 16.89 years were useless. For Jim was alive and so was his ability to invert Spock’s entire perception. The illogic of the sensation did not matter, for it was familiar, for it was Jim. Jim’s breath, Jim’s eyes, Jim’s smile, Jim’s voice, Jim, Jim.
“How did you find me?”
Always, inexplicably, irrationally, irresistibly, iridescently, absolutely…