One of my guilty pleasures is the tv show Glee. They recently aired an episode in tribute to Cory Monteith or "Finn", one of the stars of the show. I don't know when it was actually shown because I tried to watch it then, and made it about 5 minutes before turning it off. I couldn't do it, but saved it for another time when I knew I could fall apart in the privacy of my own pain. Today was that day.
The opening monologue from his "brother" talked about the numbness and the inability to answer the question of how you're feeling. He also mentioned the fact that the reason for his death was irrelevant, because regardless of the "how", the end result was the same. His brother was gone. I agreed wholeheartedly with that sentiment. I also found myself nodding along as each character expressed their surprise at the pieces of him that they missed.
But then came the scene of his mother sorting through the things in his bedroom. She fell to her knees and talked about how she always turned the station when she heard a story about someone losing their child. She couldn't bear to watch something so horrible, but always found herself wondering the same thing. How did they get up in the morning? How did they breathe? She then goes on to say that now she knows that you do get up. Every. Single. Day. And for a split second you forget, but then you remember...and it feels like you're hearing it for the first time, again and again and again. And you have to keep being a mother, even though you no longer have your child. All of this is so true, so very nail-on-the-head, except...
In real life there is no "end scene". There are no commercials. You can't pause the show or turn away when it's too hard. Trust me, if there were a way to fast forward 50 years from now I'd take it in a heartbeat. I wanted the mother scene to last forever. I wanted to watch her and see how she DID get up each day. I wanted them to show the part where she does the laundry and realizes that his shirts are no longer coming through to be cleaned. I wanted to see her go to the grocery store and pass an aisle that she could never have skipped before because of the son who would have demanded his specific favorite. I want to see if she breaks at that thought, too. Does she stop and suck in her breath when someone who looks eerily close to her baby walks by? Does she wonder if today might be a good day to simply stay in bed and forget the list of things she's "supposed" to do? Are there times when that isn't even a choice, but a demand? Does SHE ever scream out in the middle of the night, reaching for someone who never reaches back? Does SHE know the pain of the "never will"?
No. She doesn't. Because this is a television show. But, it struck me that this is how anyone on the outside of my own grief could be viewing it. It's a television show. Once they're no longer in my presence they're able to hit pause. They're able to fast forward to the part of their day that "must be done." THIS is why grief is so lonely. Everyone else is given a magic remote while I have to watch all of it in real time. I don't have the luxury of walking away from the show, the salve that is the commercial, that brief break from the agony. And while many will gladly come to my "house" and watch my show with me, maybe even provide the kleenex, they'll never give up their remote. They need to be able to turn the channel, to walk away. No one wants to trade places. And why would they?
So, lonely is commonplace. Pain is as natural as walking. Crying is breathing. And there are answers to the actresses questions, "how do they get up each day?" and "how do they breathe?" But, they don't come in hour long tv shows. They don't come with fancy background music, or impressive monologues. They come in the eyes of Debbie and Vicki. In the hearts of Chelsea and Amy. In the kindness and generosity of June and Tiffany. In the compassion of Cathy and Megan. And maybe someday, even for me. But there will be no commercials.