I woke up this morning before the alarm went off, and there it was.
“Well here I am. I hope you know, I only came because you invited me”, it quietly stated, sounding more like Eyeore than expected.
In retort, I thought, “I only invited you because I thought I should.” There is the unspoken rule: I’m supposed to awaken on This Day, with This Thought, because — that’s how it works. Isn’t it?
There it was. The standoff. The Thought didn’t want to be there, and I certainly didn’t want it there; but because I expected it, I drew open the door of my mind and let it in. It sullenly stared me down and we both got quiet.
“Now, what?” I couldn’t help but wonder. What are you supposed to do on this day? Am I supposed to cry? Am I shitty if I decide not to? I felt the tears. Not the actually tears, but that moment before. That ball in your throat, and the eyes almost burn in preparing for the trickle. I don’t think I can gush tears on this anymore. This is what they mean when they say you’re all cried out.
My first thought was how it was really going to fuck up my eyes and my make-up and make them all puffy for work, and andand… maybe we could wait til tomorrow when I didn’t have to be in the office to un-celebrate this moment?
Isn’t that what this is? An un-celebration of life? Instead of happiness and bright colors, we get silent trickles of tears, colored with browns and greys. I hate thinking of it as an anniversary of death. Anniversary constitutes celebrations to me. It’s the word we use nevertheless.
You know where you think you’re going to vomit, or you know you should vomit so you get yourself in position and just wait for it to happen? I felt like that with the tears. Which in retrospect is ironic. This time a year ago I was leaning over a toilet bowl throwing up because I found out my child had died. It’s how my mind and body reacted to the news of his death. Deny and expel.
This morning I stood at the mirror, and felt that almost-tears feeling and waited, and then decided Fuck It. I don’t need to cry On This Day to prove anything to my inner-self that I miss him. This still feels like someone else’s script I’ve been living for the past year.
Instead of crying I realized I had two ways of dealing with this. Stuffing it down (which is the norm for me), or just being ok with whatever does or doesn’t come; tears or no tears. Making the most of it. I knew only this; I needed to write today but most of all, BE OKAY WITH IT. ALL OF IT.
A new friend who understands what I am going through maybe a little deeper than others, reached out to me, and that felt good. Just knowing someone out there gets it, without me having to say anything. No elbow to the side with me saying, “You know what today is?” and giving the look, only to be greeted with that uncomfortable silence.
Grief is an ugly thing. It makes those around us uncomfortable; even our animals can sense it. It has its own timeline for repair, and everyone reacts differently with it. I have a friend who is very vocal about her grief, and another who is so private with hers, you’d almost not know she was suffering unless you knew her well enough. Both of these friends have lost a parent, so they get familiar death. But, as the friend I mentioned above told me, there is no name for those of us who lose a child. We aren’t widows, or widowers, or orphan’s.
When most of ask “How ya doing?” we don’t really want or expect to hear, “Pretty shitty. It’s the one year anniversary of my child’s unexpected death and I’m not certain how to react to all of this.” Instead we say, “I’m doing pretty good, happy it’s Friday, how about you?”. BOTH of those answers are spot on.
It seems like when we are dealing with grief we are expected to act sorrowful. But I wasn’t feeling that way to be honest. It wasn’t this dark empty hole, because I can’t make our relationship out to be more than it was. I know something is there. I feel that much. But because I still don’t know exactly what it is, it end up this ball of anxiety in my chest that tightened as the day drew closer. Stress at work just seems to fuel it, so of course this has been a stressed out week for me. Thank you fucking Murphy’s Law.
And sometimes, it’s just this nothingness. Like I missed the boat on grief.
And other moments, it like there should be some sort of – recognition for the first year anniversary of his death and instead it’s just dark silence.
“Where is my prize for making it through the year!”, my inner child screams!
Last night, it was just this almost this angry silence, interrupted only by the chirp of crickets. I hadn’t heard crickets in months, I guess because of the colder weather we are having here, but it was the first noise I noticed when I went onto the patio for a cigarette. I kept waiting to feel more — but nothing. The quietness was a little unsettling to be truthful. This furious gust of wind started to whip up and make its whistling howl. It was not in conjunction with the way I felt, just the coincidental warm, sad Santa Ana’s we get from time to time. It still made me a tad uncomfortable. As we all know with my imagination and its’ ability to run marathons thru my mind, I got a little unnerved, so I quickly headed back in the house.
So back to this morning. No tears. I made the decision to not damper the sadness, but to focus on the good. The happy. I believe the two can co-exist. So I messaged my grandson a Happy Birthday, via his mother. Then I went thru a bunch of his pics on my phone and picked one of my favorites; one when he was out here visiting me a couple of years back, playing in the pool. I put it on Facebook and wished him a happy birthday, only to question myself why? It isn’t as if he has a Facebook and can read it. Eh, why do any of us wish greetings to those who can’t read them?
I sort of feel in going thru these steps that I am extinguishing the last of those stressed out flames of “The day is coming, the day is coming!’ hysterical thoughts. Yeah look, the day came. I lived through it. Good things happened, and bad things happened, and in some places nothing happened.
I’ve lived through death before, and while it differs with each person it takes from us, we somehow always seem to come out on top. Maybe a little more bruised, or our hearts a little tougher in some spots and weaker in others.
I could have made those tears come easily this morning. I could have reimagined all the lost days and years that vanished with Kurt. I could have thought about the relationships that never completed. The conversations that needed closure.
Or I could have wished his son a Happy Birthday.