Life Topics

Thoughts on Grief

I’m told it’s something you never get over.  I’ve relied on advice, webinars, articles, and common knowledge to cope.  Friends have been supportive through hugs and coffee.  Daydreams come mostly at night when I’m alone.  Still, the waves of sorrow are following me around like a hungry stray dog.  Just when I think that I’ve come to terms with what happened, I hear that song or see a Christmas gift he would have loved.  Cue the tears.

Grief, I recently read, is love with no place to go.  So, will that love magically get transferred or dissipate into thin air?  Must I carry this “burden” of unanswered love forever?  I will truly love him forever no doubt.  The only thing I have left, as cliché as it sounds, is to hold dear the nuance of him; the memories.  I’ll funnel that love and grief into his legacy.  Cry loving tears that swell your eyes and stain your face.  Catch your breath and remember his jokes, his wit and kindness.  You might even have a good laugh as time goes on.  Above all, be kind to yourself because there’s no clock that tells you when to stop grieving.

Loss is something everyone goes through.  Some handle it better than others or appear to.  I should get over it, right?  I’ll never get over it.  Grief doesn’t work like that.  It’s an unending reminder that weaves its way into your daily life.  How you manage that love-with-no-place-to-go is up to each individual.   Unfortunately, life doesn’t teach or prepare you how to carry on.  Just accept and feel the intermittent pain that pulses through your body like the very blood you need to live.  It is now part of your life.


Life Topics

The Mask

Slathering the grey cream all over my face, I give myself a facial that will turn green on contact.  A goolie look I must admit.  All to make my lines, sags and wrinkles disappear from this 59-year-old facade.  Can I be so naive?  Yes, because there was a promise in the bottle, a resound commitment of improvement.  I have to give it a try because of all the years of damage and neglect etched all over my face. I look into the mirror and can make out the cheek bones I used to have, the forehead lines and the mess under my eyes that are visible under the mask.  In 40 minutes, I will wash it off and be beautiful.  They said so.  I guess this is called a “beauty routine.”  It’s an exercise that continues to disappoint.  My face will always be my face.

I’m not dissatisfied with my looks.  With each line and wrinkle, I’ve thanked God for letting me grow old, accepting the consequences.  I’m more than a pretty face.  As my weight has increase, my face has gotten bigger too.  Everything is more pronounced.  The lines where my nose meets my forehead are covered with my glasses thankfully.  A scarf can stylishly drape over the neck lines and keeping a straight face and not scrunching may help to eliminate new lines.  And maybe win poker games too.  Moving into my senior years has me wanting to erase mistakes; personal, professional, and facial mistakes.  Time to atone with toner.

After I rinse the mask, I look in the mirror and remember what I used to look like.  I remember a pretty girl with perfect skin and bright eyes.  She was carefree and thought she’d be 20 years old forever.  Years of sun damage, stress and even some sadness has reinvented her.  I really do love myself for who I am today.  All my experience and wrinkles have an important reason, waiting up for the kids to come home, working overtime, or caring for a sick child.  My face tells a story of someone who has lived a sometimes hard as well as comfortable life.  My journey has been grand and exciting, interrupted by moments of chaos and confusion.  It’s written all over my face.  And you can’t put that in a bottle.


Life Topics

A Little Box

I feel foreign in my own house.  My body feels like nothing is familiar. My mind is on everything and nothing at all.  Opening the refrigerator, I take out a can of seltzer and slowly move to the table.  My knitting scattered around, and half finished.  The computer monitor is lit brightly in my dark office. I try to get back into my daily routine, but I can’t sleep.  I must go back to work tomorrow, while my scattered thoughts are muted by confusion and sorrow.  I am devastated.

My world changed 2 days ago at 2am in the morning.  There has been a delay in my emotions that I didn’t expect.  Shouldn’t I be relieved?  We all knew he was going to die for months.  The quick decline in his fragile body became so pronounced it was immediately inevitable.   I thought I was fully prepared to lose him but denied it in my heart.  For months prior, I would visit him as much as possible trying to drink in everything that was him.  Just hoping to capture his love, his stories, his spirit in a little box that I could carry with me.

Children and grandchildren arrived over the weekend to see him before he passed, knowing that time was short.  He announced days before that he was done taking medication and stopped eating.  We would periodically go to his room to check on him.  Mom seldom left his side.  He was unconscious and silent, occasionally opening his eyes to try to communicate.  He was medicated with morphine to relax and help him breath.  I would put my face to his when he was awake and smile and talked soothingly through tears.  I don’t think he heard me, but he would scrunch up his face like he was trying to cry.  He was too weak to have tears.  I believe he was caught between wanting to die and wanting to live.  Afraid to die.

I awoke to see him take his last labored breaths and silently begged God for mercy, bargaining between let him go, and please let him stay.  A severe shock went through me as I realized what was happening.  My sister urged me to leave the room to let Mom have the precious last moments with him, and so I did.  I woke up my brothers and children so they could see him one last time.  We gathered in his bedroom as his lifeless body lay under the covers.  His mouth was agape, but he looked oddly at peace. Slowly we wandered around the room hugging and crying.  We lost our Dad that night.

An hour later, I toasted Dad with a glass of Jameson’s because that’s what he would have wanted.  That’s what I wanted.  Memories flooded my head as I sipped; good and bad.  I loved the person he was flaws and all.  He is finally at peace with his family who will now hold and protect him.  Our job here is done.  That little box I have will be tucked away for me to open when I think about him.  Sometimes there will be tears and other times laughter.  I am so proud that he has touched so many lives and that his spirit will live on.

I will miss you Dad.