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Sunday, March 9, 2014

The House That Grief Built

Today it's his turn.  Tomorrow it might be mine, or hers, or all of us combined.  Sometimes it's anger, sometimes it's tears.  It doesn't really matter which method we choose.  They all suck.  And we're stuck here in this new existence.  Each of us navigating a new world and trying to make the pieces of each individual fit into a family.  It doesn't work well.  Not without that most precious 6th piece.  He's still here of course, but not in the way we want him to be.  Not in the way that makes our puzzle fit together.

You know what the biggest problem is?  Our physical life, our day to day, has become too damn easy.  Seriously, I just read about a parent who is struggling through life with a sick child and she describes the medications, the therapies, the phone calls, the constant worry.  And I know all about that life.  That's the life that left me completely drained, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  It's the one that made me cry myself to "sleep", but only for minutes at a time before the worry would creep back in and take over.  Yes, I remember that life well, and I remember begging for it to stop.  For at least the physical part to get better.  Guess what?  It did.  And it's horrible.

Without that piece of constant movement, that never ending need to "save" a member of our family, we have time to think.  And that is dangerous.  The first part of the grief process was such a tunnel.  We were all just feeling our way around in the dark.  Separately.  Now it seems we've found pieces of each other again, and although that would seem to be a positive thing, it just brings up more pain and confusion.  If I squint hard enough, I can catch a glimpse of my little girl, but it doesn't last long.  She may laugh for a moment, but soon she'll be swallowed up by the darkness again.  It happens to all of us.  My husband is over there in the corner.  I know he is because sometimes I see him, but then I remember that it's not all of him.  And if I find the courage to look into his eyes, I'm reminded with blinding clarity that I'm no longer all of me.  How are we supposed to make that work?  This is a rhetorical question, of course.  No one has this answer.  The people in this HOUSE don't have the answer, and if they don't, no one does.

Every family experiences the emotions of each of its members.  Usually you deal with it and move on, right?  Sisters fight and they are punished for being unkind to one another, and you move to the next issue.  That doesn't happen here.  Sure the sisters are fighting, but why?  Can you always blame the grief?  Maybe it's just a normal part of growing up with siblings.  That's possible.  But what if you're wrong about that?  What if they can't stop pushing each other away because they feel the need to protect themselves from loss again?  Maybe they want to control what they can and can't have.  That's what their Mom does.  So why shouldn't they be allowed the same liberties?  Could we be blaming the pain too much?  Sure.  But it's always there.  Even if it isn't the reason for the fighting, it will become the raging voice of punishment.  All of the sudden a normal moment of parental frustration becomes a shouted list of the reasons that life is unfair.

This exercise in emotional torture is a life sentence for this family.  Everything we do or don't do is colored by what we've lost.  We grieve so differently, and the outlets we choose to release that pain couldn't be further apart.  How do you make that fit?  You don't.  You sit back and watch, or you stand up and scream, depending on your role that day.  But what you don't do is fix it.  What you don't do, is make it better.  You let it happen, and you pretend for a moment that you have a choice in the matter, that you're choosing your role.  But the truth is, this isn't your house anymore.  This is grief's house, and you're just living in it.

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