His name is Grief. Yes, Grief. The little foe who takes over all brain capacity in an instant. The tricky one who doesn’t ask if now is a good time or if he should come back later. The fool whose goal is to draw out the tears. And unfortunately, sometimes he’s the only one who understands that he’s actually needed and we become partners in this mess.
I’ve become quite acquainted with Mr. Grief in these past few months. And trust me, we have met before. But only briefly because healing came a bit quicker. It seems this time the sadness’ stay has no end. Very much like any of your roommate’s boyfriends who decided he could move in on your couch and eat all of your food without invitation (we all had one of those, right?). I know I have a year of more goodbyes ahead as we plan my dad’s final resting places. So here is a glimpse into the life of active grieving as I’ve come to know it.
Grief has become my shadow. Walking and driving with me everywhere. We go to work, we visit with friends, we have dinner with my husband and I don’t think he’s a fan, and we’ve now experienced two major holidays. But I dare not introduce him to anyone, because I wouldn’t wish his heavy presence on any of my loved ones. He is always there, playing his favorite game of hide and seek. Though in this game, I usually wake up hoping to not find him. And then he rears his ugly head just when I didn’t need it. Just when I thought I had some normalcy. Reminding me that we aren’t anywhere close to beginning to heal. That’s usually the hardest, the sneak attacks. The unplanned visits. He can cause moodiness, irritability, disinterestedness, sobs, anger, and exhaustion. He’s a long list of side effects to a pill no one wants to take. At times he can cut me to my core and become completely debilitating.
“Didn’t your dad love this movie? Sure wish you could text him to let him know it’s on…”
“What was that recipe? You can’t remember and now he’s not here to ask….no one knows the ingredients, its gone. Why didn’t you take him seriously when he said he’d teach you?”
“These song lyrics just said the word ‘dad’…..ready to cry now?”
While these are the hardest moments in my life thus far, what I have learned is that Grief can have a sweet side. Grief sometimes gifts me a memory or the sound of dad’s voice and it can be comforting. Truly, if life hadn’t been so great with dad, I wouldn’t be missing him so badly. So BIG. That’s why I don’t turn Grief away. I’m angry when he ruins my plans, but I let him stay. Usually there’s a reason and a memory coming in with the assist and I remember again how lucky I was in the first place. I will always wish my dad were here physically, but he is here spiritually. My dad is in Heaven, living his best life. Walking, running, flying, and hopefully playing on God’s softball team. So while I hurt, while I deal with the pains of a goodbye said too soon, I can be so grateful that he isn’t in any pain. He’s no longer asking for his dignity back, wishing for relief of constant pain, and for his independence. He’s living again.
For dad, I can deal with the pain. I can be Grief’s newest addition to that long list of contacts in his iPhone X. Yes, an iPhone X, because what Grief wants, Grief gets. And with each unsolicited call for tears, I’ll know that it’s because of a hundred sweet memories in the past and one day he’ll delete me from that contact list.
Until then, Grief and I will be our own version of The Odd Couple. I’ll be the funny one of course, but always waiting for him to move out and move on. He’ll be the one causing trouble, never paying rent, but somehow come off as lovable and good for me. And it looks like this program has renewed seasons for the unforeseeable future. Stay tuned…