What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the movie title, Sleepless In Seattle? Is it Tom Hanks, or Meg Ryan? Maybe you just get confused and wonder if that's the one where she gets mail? I think for many of us, the first scene that we recall is that last one. You know, the one where she leaves her dinner with her former fiance, and begs to take the last trip up to the top of the tower in hopes of meeting her soul mate. That's everyone's favorite scene, right? I mean, that's why we're watching the movie...again.
The most infuriating, confusing, painful thing about grief is all of the unknown. There are so many twists and turns that you never expect, and lurking around each corner is a new way to throw you off of an already foreign landscape. Everything changes. Everything. All that you've known up until that point is either in direct opposition to what you now know, or is so deeply buried in the murky, evil bowels of grief that you couldn't possibly recognize it as anything familiar. It's insane how even the little moments in your life become wary strangers. Did you know that every single song, book, and movie you've ever experienced takes on a whole new meaning after you've lost someone you love? I've been shocked by this fact more times than I can count. For example, never again will I stop on a station showing Sleepless In Seattle if it's current scene is anything but the very first one. I don't know that I'd ever even noticed it before, but now it means more to me than the rest of that movie ever could.
The opening scene shows Tom Hanks' character, Sam, in his high-rise office talking to a colleague. His friend asks about something work related, and Sam becomes angry and throws all kinds of unwarranted hatred toward his costar. When he realizes he's just had an outburst, he looks at his colleague and says,
"Don't mind him. He's just a guy who's lost his wife."
No line has ever been more accurate. When I say that everything changes, that's exactly what I mean. I don't mean that sometimes there are subtle reminders or that I notice some differences every once in a while. I mean that each breath I take feels and even sounds different. And while some of these things may eventually return to something more familiar, my essence is forever changed. I will not be the same person. My world has been colored with pain and loss. Even beautiful moments come with a sting that can't be denied. A life without that simple truth will never again be part of my reality.
However, I've noticed that there are people surrounding me that don't judge that change. They accept that this is my reality, and they even support it. They never say, "I'll love you if..." or "You should be doing this" or "You're not doing that". I'm extremely grateful for those people. I know with certainty that if they haven't freaked out and run yet, they're probably not going to. I've been horrible and unfair. I've yelled and screamed. I've blamed and hated. And yet, there they are, saying nothing. Because honestly, nothing anyone has to say will change any of it. Somehow they know this. One of my good friends recently said, "I don't know what everyone is looking for. I still see you. You're still in there." Unfortunately this friend understands the expectations of others all too well. Luckily, we both know that each day that we live being true to who we are, and forgetting what anyone else thinks we should be doing, is the ONLY way to do this.
I assume there will be a day somewhere in the very distant future where more pieces of the old me will show more frequently. I also assume that anyone uncomfortable with the current version of me will start to drift back in, and I suppose that's up to them. I honestly don't think about that very often because no matter what I lose now, it will never be worse than what I've already been through. I give very little power to anything that doesn't keep me going in the current moment. But, even if I do eventually find that place of familiarity, I'll remember those who were here for this part. I'll remember that you held me during the dark moments, and that you talked to me on the phone late into the night even when you were exhausted. I'll remember that you walked silently beside me as I screamed and cried, and offered a hug when I needed it. I'll remember that you never said, "I know you're sad, but..." If you give me time, I'll be that strength for you too. In the meantime,
"Don't mind her. She's just a mother who's lost her baby."