Oh Grief……. you sly dog you!
Grief is a funny thing. If you tuck it well enough away, you don’t even feel it……well, not as the emotion grief. You feel it as asthma, COPD, or other afflictions of the lungs. Sometimes it’s big brother Anger steps in and holds the shield for a while, but Anger has movement and has an underlying “requirement” that you keep moving along with it for it to hold up the defenses. When you stop, it gives anger a few moments to rest and grief, which has become more potent behind the walls, to seep through.
And it comes seemingly out of nowhere…..almost waiting for the trigger that will allow one brick to budge, and then another, and another, as the mortar gives way. Much of the time, we are clever masons with an ample supply of mortar to recast the seal quickly when moments are inopportune to greet grief. (Which is most of the time for many) But sometimes we drop our tools or forget some vital ingredient, and there is a breach in the damn. Sometimes the whole thing breaks.
Today was like that.
It started out as a relatively ordinary day, for the most part. We got shaved ice and then ventured to a quaint nearby cemetery in search of Lilly pads. Finding them out of our reach, we tromped through the cemetery paths, looking at some of the gravestone art, as we munched on our cool icey treats.
And then we moved on about our day.
I felt different after visiting the cemetery. Memories of my dad kept popping up. I figured this was a given, since he is dead and we were visiting a place filled with people that were also dead. A moderately heavy sort of sadness loomed…..but being me, I chugged on……..I had stuff to do after all.
Grief waited and I think as I look back, I have the faint recollection of it chuckling.
We went to get groceries which was probably the most horrible grocery shopping experience I have ever had. The only thing that would have made it worse is if one of the kids vomited in the deli area. The energy in the parking lot was aggressive and chaotic. Inside the store it was similar with a large amount of confusion, anger, and well, almost sadness. The children felt it. You could hear echoes of them crying or screaming throughout the store – near the produce, near the cereal isle, and down by the ice cream. I went in angry. Not because I was angry. I didnt really have anything to be angry about. But because grief had started breaching the dam and I certainly did not want to feel that……so TADA! Anger to the rescue. I felt angry at everything. The lady who ran into me. The woman who decided it was a good time to go into reverse in the parking lot to grab the spot out of her reach. The deli because they didnt have the type of ham the kids like. The slow as death woman picking out yogurt and reading every damn label on nearly every yogurt brand while my 4 year old screamed that he wanted the $7 sipping yogurts that I had said no to. I think somewhere inside I was going “FUCK YOU! Ill be angry at the whole lot of you…..because Im going to outrun this grief I can feel lurking over my right shoulder.”
There is an image I cant get out of my head. Down one of the isles, there was an older man, walking in somewhat of a daze. His pants were wet, clearly from urinating himself. He just looked confused. I had my own unconformable and yelling child with me, and was occupied with that and not running into a third cart, so I paused and looked back and could feel his “lost-ness”. This “lost-ness” reminded me of my father’s. I moved on, in a hurry to get done what I needed to get done, and to move on and get out of this place that had the feel of a bad acid trip. I regret not stopping. I regret not asking if this man needed some help. Im sure he was with someone, and if they didnt come, probably someone that worked at the store would eventually step forward if he needed help. Maybe. I tell myself that in the hopes that it makes me feel better. It doesnt. And at 11:00pm Im sitting here wondering what happened to him and if he’s ok.
Driving home, I couldn’t shake this image. And the image of the security guard in the parking lot who looked incredibly unhappy. I felt myself softening with sadness. And I could hear myself chasing anger……(PLeasseee come back!) ……as I recalled the angry and irritating events at the grocery store to my 15 year old who really had little interest in hearing it………Anger had little interest too. It had played it’s part and was moving on despite my grasps……..
And then all of these moments flowed in like the card catalog library scene in the Ghostbusters movie…..They were moments of my dad. Some of them were memories. But most were visions of moments I painted in conversations with him during our phone calls. I hadn’t seen him the past ten years (gosh now I realize what a long time that was. I wonder if it felt long for him?) so I didnt actually have these memories in reality.
He would talk about things he was doing or places he had gone, and I had very visual pictures that I had essentially made up, that had become memories. They weren’t really memories. They were stories of memories that I didnt really. have.
My dad worked for a short time as a security guard. I had memories of him doing this job, which I dont think he liked, since he had spent years trying to get a job in the tech industry, only to be told that he was “too old” (in different politically correct non lawsuit type wording), then was hired to be a security guard at the same computer companies. I find it amusing that I have such clear visuals…..like I was there visuals…..of moments and places that I never experienced in the way that I seem to have the visuals for.
Ahhh and here again words fall short and my attention drifts………
And I find myself rambling again……….I ramble a lot.
Essentially……….graveyard + confused elder man + security guard + a really shitty energy at the grocery store and my avoidance of feeling grief + other stressful events of the past few days= ………..(drum roll please……..
……….Dead Dad Stuff…………
And in with the grief comes the regret, the guilt, the shame…..and all of those little pieces that are part of the process of grief.
Grief is my thing to work on. Well, one of many. It’s the thing I dont like to feel. Given that I’ve had asthma since childhood, it’s not a surprise.
What makes this story even more fascinating is last night before I went to bed, irritated at my husband for something stupid, I set the intention for all of this. I can distinctly recall taking a flower essence for grief and respiratory health and saying “Fuck it. Im tired of holding this grief back. Bring it” as if it were somehow a weapon to wield. (How strange) I actually forgot about all of that until a short while ago.
I woke in the middle of the night, as I sometimes do, with the thought…..which was a knowing……that
Grief is about Time. Loss of. Lack of. Lack of presence in. (LIGHTBULB and Clanging “WINNER” Bells.)
Thinking back on this awareness gained, I feel it’s true. I think there is a key to healing grief that is about time. I dont know what exactly. I dont want to put too much thought or try and draw conclusions about it. It just feels right.
So now I sit and write……and cry a little bit…..as right now I have no interest or energy in playing mason. Thats hard work to do all of the time.
Sometimes you have to put down the trowel.
Sometimes you have to let the dam drain a bit or else it bursts……
…….and well, sometimes that’s what’s needed too.
Another late night rambling as I work through yet another piece…………and I share it in the event that it resonates with others.