A Little Bit Blue.

Funny thing about grief: it finds its own way.

It barges in sometimes, an unwanted, boorish intruder with a booming voice and bad body odor, and forces you into a confrontation. You’ve barred the door and closed the curtains and turned off the porch light, but that doesn’t matter. It’s here, and it WILL BE HEARD.

I was minding my own business this weekend, trying to find my desk under all of the stacks of mail and paper, when I found it.  The Book.  It’s a nondescript hardcover, coffee-table sized, with writing on the spine and section dividers.  It is the book that was prepared by my family’s law firm to provide personal portraits of my mother, father, and sister to people who never knew them.  It was intended to show them as special people who were loved, who were important, and who are deeply missed.  It does a pretty good job of it.  There are photographs, excerpts from our depositions and testimonial letters from family and friends.  It touches on highlights of their lives and then devotes the end of the text to their sudden deaths.

I had brought it down from the shelf a few months ago when Number Young Son had some questions about the train crash.  Having been so young at the time, neither of the boys have read the newspaper articles or seen this book.  Their knowledge of the crash has come from me and their dad. I hoped that maybe the book could fill in some of the holes and answer some of their questions.

Of course I had to open it.  I just thumbed through it, pausing to read a few lines here and there.  The tears welled up and spilled, and my throat was tight, but it was more of a release than anything else.  Reading those heartfelt words about my Pa, my Momma and my goofy sister made me cry good tears.  But even those tears just drip into the void.

I’ve done that ‘grief work.’  Don’t let anyone tell you it’s easy — it’s not. It’s horrible, brutal, cruel, painful, exhausting, punishing work.  It’s as tiring as hard physical labor. It drains every last bit of energy, spirit, ambition, and hope right out of you. It robs you; it takes you down to the raw nubs of your most naked inner self and leaves you with nothing.  I have spent way too much time there, thanks.  No need to go back.  These days, I have a sort of inner governor that kicks in when the going gets rough – it keeps me from the deep end of that drowning pool.

But that is not to say that I don’t mourn.  Believe me, I miss my parents with every cell in my body.  I miss my sister the same way.  I ache for their voices and yearn to be wrapped in their hugs. But fifteen years after the fact, the jagged edges have been worn smooth.  The peaks and valleys are there and the road is still bumpy in spots, but I’m no longer picking splinters out of my heart.  My sadness is a still, deep well.

So when I saw an item shared on my Facebook feed, a link to a post entitled Mourning My Mom, Before and After Facebook, I had to read it.  The author talked about how different it might have been had Facebook been around when her mother passed away in 2002.  I won’t summarize it here — you can read for yourself — but she made some great points and made me think about how we mourn and how people offer comfort.

I could write at length about my grief and mourning.  I could, but I can’t.  I can’t, because I still have some kind of block that prevents me, like that governor inside, from taking it too far. Self-preservation, I suppose. But that can be so frustrating, when I know that each time I write about it, talk about it, and read about it, it gets a little easier for me.  I really want to scream and holler and throw things and Get It All Out. Then I would feel so much better, right?

That’s a myth, though.  A pipe dream.  I could never get it all out.  It’s part of me now, and it’s changed me.

In the article, the author says, But grief is illogical. It never feels resolved.  She’s right about that.  I want to spit every time I hear someone use the term ‘closure.’  Like you can close the door on that part of your life, and it’s done.  Pfft.  Maybe there are people who can, but I haven’t met one.  I can’t close that door because there’s a big boot stuck in it.  Grief, that paragon of perfect timing, is not about to be shut behind that door.  It is going to show up unannounced and unwelcome, for the rest of my life.  When you least expect it, expect it.

I’m no expert.  I’m not here to tell anyone how it’s done.  I’m not here to wear my loss like a medal or trot it out as a trump card at the pity party.  It’s fact, and it’s my life.  Even my siblings, who had the same loss I had, don’t experience the same mourning in the same way.  I don’t want to carry it around as an excuse for what I do or don’t do.  In reality, it’s there; sometimes I spend time thinking about it, but most times I don’t.  When it was new and fresh and ugly, there was a part of me that wanted everyone to know, so they could understand the person pretending to be me.  I wanted justification.  I wanted reasons.  I wanted something.  Anything.

So I guess this is rather a pointless post.  I’m blue now, but it won’t last forever. I’ll pause and reflect and savor warm memories of the way Momma pushed up her glasses and how she answered the phone in her sing-song voice; how my Pa would perch on the stool in the dining room, peeling apples for the pies she made; and the taste of Wendy’s World-Famous Potato Salad.  I’ll wipe some tears and bite my lip.  I’ll think about what could have been.  I’ll wish I could wake up from this bad dream that’s lasted fifteen years.

And then I’ll be thankful to be as far down this road as I am, and I’ll pray I don’t have to walk that stretch again.

Thanks for listening.

 

 

photo credit perfect_hexagon

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StuckonZero

StuckonZero

Aging like a fine wine. ;-)

10 thoughts on “A Little Bit Blue.”

  1. Your statement about grief, about never being able to get it all out, made me think of blood. We can stand to bleed a little, and technically even quite a lot, without too much harm done. But it is impossible to ever get all our blood out without killing ourselves in the process. So long as we’re alive, it remains within us.
    Beautifully written, Ant B.

    I’ve never seen The Book. I’ll have to ask my mom some day.

    1. Thank you.
      I like your comparison – it’s true in so many ways. It’s in my blood now – it’s who I am. Each time I have to deal with it, or I choose to, it teaches me something. This whole process has been one of learning and growth. Excruciatingly painful sometimes, but immensely valuable.
      The book is a walk down memory lane in so many ways, and I do cherish the tributes to our loved ones. But I don’t like the ending much. xoxoAntB

    2. Dearest Becky, I read your blog with tears this morning. My heart aches for you. They say “time heals all wounds”, but it doesn’t! My sainted grandmother always told me “things happen for a reason”, you may not know why today, or tomorrow. In fact “you may never know” I found this to be very true when I was told I could not finish my internship and would have to forfeit my dream of becoming a nurse. What I did find was that GOD gave me a “hall pass” with a little map to get me through that labyrinth of pain and loss and I was able to come out the other side with a new way of thinking. Had I become a nurse, I would never have had the time to spend 10 hours a day taking care of my aging mother and making memories! I know you will find that map.just remember you also will come out the other side with a new “hall pass” all my love, shari

      1. Thank you, Shari.
        You’re right — time doesn’t heal, but it does make things more bearable, at least to me. I never really wondered why this happened to my family, because I tend to think of it as why not? Why would our family be any different from the myriad of others who have been through tragedy? And I was thankful then, as I am thankful now, that my parents raised us to believe in God and to look for comfort in Him. We have all seen the blessings that came with the loss, strange as it may sound.
        But yes, we will all come through on the other side, and maybe some day we’ll learn the answers to our questions and see our loved ones again. I so appreciate your tender heart and encouragement. Life is too short to see it any other way. The paths our lives take are often so different from what we envision, but things do work out, especially if you remember to be thankful.
        xoxoB

  2. Beck, your writing about grief is exquisite. I know your experience of it isn’t, but the way you can articulate that experience is spot-on. I’m going to post this to my facebook page and I know this is really going to help a lot of folks.

    When I read about this time – or even just think about it – my heart sighs with yours.

    I love you.

    1. Thank you, Bobbi. You have a tender and generous heart.

      You are always so supportive and encouraging to me. I thank you for that kind compliment and for sharing my words. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but they do seem to flow from a place in my heart where the truth resides. Fifteen years seems like a long time, and I guess it is, but sometimes it’s like the blink of an eye. I look in the mirror and I’m older and wiser, and now more than ever, my mother stares back, and that’s okay. Grief is not my enemy; it’s an old, familiar face now, a companion on my walk of life.

      I like to think that if I ever do have to walk down that awful stretch of road again, I’ll know the way.

      I love you, too. xoxoB

  3. Becky, with the recent loss of my mom in July, this hit home, a little closer than was comfortable. I thank you as I wipe the tears. Joyce

    1. Joyce, thank you for taking the time to read and comment. It’s wrenchingly hard, losing a parent. It’s a heartbreaking loss and so much more. It changes you. My heart goes out to you as you find your way through.
      Our mothers remain solidly with us all our lives because their love is what made us and shaped us. Their influence is always there. I know you miss her with all your heart, and you always will. But I tell you this — even when it looks bleak and hopeless, know that it will get better. It will get easier. Trust yourself. You have her with you always.
      I am humbled that my post touched you so deeply. Thank you and good luck, my friend. xoxoB

  4. I’m late coming to this, partly out of self-preservation. You are a powerful writer and I knew you’d evoke the essence of grief, and you did. Mahalo, my friend.

    You will write about the wreck when you’re ready. It’s interesting to me that Cheryl Strayed took a couple of decades after the death of her mother before she wrote WILD. I hope you do write it one day. Aloha and big hugs, Christi

    1. Thank you, Christi. I appreciate your kind words and hugs.
      I agree — I do think it will come some day; at least, I hope so. Five years after the crash, a song appeared in my mind one day — lyrics, tune, and all. It warbled around in my skull for another few years until I could record it, because I had had no way to transcribe it. Fortunately, one of my friends has a home studio and helped me out.
      Now that it’s out of my head and put on paper and disc for posterity, I’m not sure what to do with it. But I believe it came to me at just the right moment. Maybe its purpose will show up that way, too. Mahalo and aloha to you. xoxoB

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