A quiet, well dressed widow in a serene sanctuary, sniffing delicately into a handkerchief. Um, not.
I somehow thought grief was a quiet, private, delicate suffering. When my dearest friend Bob died, I was prepared for it, so I quietly, most likely numbly, turned inward and processed his passing. Every spring for the next five years, I would be sad around the time of his birthday, but I could function. When my parents died, we were so ready for them to go, that their deaths were a relief--we had pre-grieved for each of them.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, prepared me for this time. Around here, grieving operates with a lot of barking, name-calling ("You tyrant!" "I am not a tyrant. MO-omm! She called me a tyrant! What is a tyrant, anyway?"), chores which need to be done, bills which need to be paid, homework that needs to be supervised, and the eternal, endless mounds of dog hair. Grief is not quiet and serene--in fact, it is like one of those violent juvenile offenders who just happened to move in to our house. We certainly would never have given permission for Grief to appear here, let alone stay. Yet here Grief is, and along with Grief come some of his friends, Anger, Depression, and Overwhelming Sadness. They steal our belongings, putting them places we never would have; they disrupt our normal flow of operation; they take up a lot of room and make big messes.
And I don't see them leaving any time soon.
How, exactly, do we move on from something like this? How do we incorporate our new reality of that loss? I know, I know, everyone says time will heal us. But I don't want this new reality.
EG and I always teased the kids about how, when we were little old people, we would take turns living with each of them, driving a tiny little car to church at speeds never reaching over 25 miles per hour, and then going to one of the "all you can eat" buffets for Sunday lunch. We'd hold hands and dote on one another with the tenderness sometimes seen in those gray-haired, frail couples.
We were, first and foremost, a married couple. Sometimes you see married people who are actually "married singles," who have their own lives and are married out of convenience or inertia. There are also the married couples who are Mom and Dad first, who don't know what to do when the kids move out. Getting to the "married couple" point took years of work and commitment on both our parts. And now that investment is gone, and I am a single parent of three kids, and in seven years Nita will move on to college, and I will be alone.
I wonder if Grief will still be living here with me.