Monday, January 5, 2015

The Wilderness of Grief

On this day four years ago, I watched one of the best people I have known take his very last breath.  I held my dad’s hand, kissed his cheek, and with tears rolling down my face told him I love him for the very last time.  It was a day at the end of a lot of days that I will never forget, and it was the beginning of an endeavor of a difficulty level that I could not have imagined – and one for which I could never have adequately prepared.

 I’m not sure if I knew it when I spoke the last words I would ever have the chance to say to him, but I told my dad something that day that wasn’t the truth: I told him that I would be ok without him.  I had to say it; I knew that I needed to let him go on ahead with as much peace as I could offer him after all that he had been through.  But, even four years later … I can’t honestly say that I’m ok, at least not as I used to think of as ok.  I’m different, in many ways, and I guess there is some ok in that.  The anguish of missing him every day and of knowing that he wanted to stay here on this earth with us so damn bad, along with the things that my family and I learned during his illness have transformed me forever, for sure.

Grieving in our culture is often very hard: people seem to expect – and to want – those who are in mourning to be ok.  Messages like “Be strong!” and “He would want you to be happy” are the standard, and that is one of the things that makes grieving feel like swimming upstream. 

I remember talking to a friend whose dad had died many years before not long after my dad died.  She was still really grieving, she told me, and I was stunned.  How conveniently na├»ve I was, about grief and about a lot of things, before the lines were blurred.  Sometimes, when I think about my dad’s going on ahead, about not having him with us here on this earth anymore, my breath catches in my throat and I think, "I am not ready for this."  I know now that, like my friend and like so many others who have walked this path, I will never be really done grieving … and I think that’s the ok that I am left with.

                                                        I miss you, Dad//