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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Date

Yeah, yeah, yeah...that "date" is coming.  It's going to be December 8th soon, and while no date in the last year has been a good one, I think most people assume that this one will be the hardest.  Will it?  Hell if I know.  In my experience, the days leading up to "the date" are actually worse, and it's nearly impossible to shed even one tear on the day that everyone expects you to be a heaving mess.  You want to see that?  Come over a few days before, or now for that matter. Why does it work that way?  Who knows?  I know it doesn't make much sense, but the beauty of grief is that NONE of it makes any freaking sense.

In fact, do you know what day scares me the most?  December 9th.  Why?  Because then the "date" will be over.  A year will have officially passed and the last day that I'm allowed to be visibly upset will have come and gone.  I know, I know, "there is no time limit on grief," "take as much time as you need", etc.  Sure, except that isn't true.  The truth is that even those with the best of intentions assume that at some point, this part will pass.  I don't believe that, and maybe it's just because I'm in the beginning stages and it only happened five minutes ago.  Does time even matter in this situation?  I think, no.  I recently heard a woman say that she didn't want to let go of her grief, because it was the last thing that connected her to her daughter.  Thank allah for that woman because I was beginning to think that maybe I was a little crazy. (No comments necessary on that one.)

I was having a seemingly innocent conversation with a friend a couple of weeks ago, and I remember saying, "Oh yeah, Easton was Superman last year for Halloween."  That was right before the punch in the gut.  I felt like I'd literally had the wind knocked out of me.  It's a very physical experience and it happens all the time.  Immediately after saying that simple line, I realized that it would be the last time I'd ever be able to start a sentence with, "Last year he...".  Never again will that be true.  None of my years or "last years" will involve a story in which Easton was alive.  How is that possible?  I have no idea.  It makes absolutely no sense.  These moments happen so often that it's almost become routine.  Wake up, brush teeth, get punched in the gut.  Exercise, eat something, punch in the gut. Smile, laugh, gut punch.  Over and over and over again without fail.  And as awful as that sounds, this is not the worst part.  Insane?  I know, trust me.

The part that makes your head spin, that brings you to your knees, that surprises you on a daily basis, is the loss of self.  I'm no longer the same person.  That may sound cliche, or even "expected", but the truth is that you could never expect to know what it's like to wake up in a completely different body that's guided by some new person's brain.  Is all of it bad?  Of course not.  Of course there are parts of this new person that I'm eternally grateful for.  She's much slower to judge and quicker to love.  She has no expectations of anyone or anything, so everything that happens is pretty much a "roll with the punches" situation.  She no longer fears any of the things she used to because nothing she experiences now will even come close to what she's already seen.  However, I don't KNOW her. She's broken. She's foreign.  A stranger.  And she never goes away.  She's still there when I'm supposed to be compassionate about someone else's "dire" situation.  Hers seems to be the only perspective that matters.

Anyone who knew me before, doesn't know this woman.  Anyone who knows her now wouldn't recognize the person I thought to be me.  A particularly poignant moment in my recent experience came as I was remembering the first Christmas that my oldest son was old enough to care about presents.  I was working nights at the time and had been up all night Christmas Eve, but stayed up the next day so that I could see him enjoy the day.  I remember telling my husband that although I was a nurse, I didn't care what I had to do in whatever job I happened to have at the time, I would never miss a Christmas morning with my children.  But that was the old me.  This new woman hates Christmas, and all other holidays, or any family gathering for that matter.  I can't imagine anything worse than sitting around a tree, with a room full of family, passing around gifts that mean nothing.  So, like so many other things, I've also lost Christmas. How many ways can you lose someone?  You'd be surprised...

So what's the point of saying all of this?  Why do I keep re-hashing pain that isn't going to go away or change?  Because, like I said, she doesn't go away.  All she knows is pain and grief.  It's the air she breathes and the water she drinks.  The woman before her has died, and to expect her resurrection is as futile an expectation as that of Easton's.  She's not coming back, so say your good-byes to her and move on or don't, but know that no one misses her and simultaneously loathes her existence like I do.

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