***DISCLAIMER/TRIGGER WARNING*** The “Grief Sucks” series is an ongoing response to my experience of a recent loss. As such, it may contain things that could serve as triggers for people who have also experienced loss. Finally, I respect that there are as many ways to grieve as there are people and I mean no offence to those who process grief differently than I do. Should you choose to stay and read, I ask only to be met with that same basic respect and understanding.
What will it be this time?
The sight of someone’s dad helping them with little fixes and renovations? My dad never really got to do that with me because we weren’t much in the same city once I had a place of my own and even when we were my then-partner was reasonably handy himself. Doesn’t matter that he never really got to help me around my home, though, I was still nearly brought to tears when I saw a neighbour’s dad helping her with stuff around her home.
Will it be a scene in a movie where a man touches his father’s head while he’s lying in a hospital bed? Because I did that. I can still feel the layers of cooled and reheated sweat, the body oils, the fever that had not yet truly broken on the skin of his bald head. And when I remember his head I can also feel his swollen hand in mine as I held it while he slept. The pulse and twitch of the muscle between his thumb and first finger that was bad for a while until they got the timing of his medications right.
Will it be a series of absolutely beautiful stories that people share with me about him that fill my heart with love and gratitude and also bring me to my knees? To the fetal position on the floor?
Maybe just a song that comes on in a minor key? A slow tempo? A strong voice holding a long note?
Will it be the smell of cinnamon?
The memory of a gut-busting, push-his-glasses-up-his-nose-to-wipe-tears-from-his-eyes laugh?
Whatever it is in each moment that I am struck by this loss-based pain it has accumulated to being so many different things. All the things. An all-the-time assault. And I know that I’m actually being pretty healthy and processing well for me and my soul.
I know that tears are a sacred ritual and I’m not afraid to cry.
I’m just sick of it. Unearthly, totally, soul-swallowingly sick of it.
Sick of the almost perpetually red or swollen eyes.
Sick of getting most of the way through a day – the loss still with me but peaceful – and then something.
One of the things.
One of all-things.
And I’m bent over it all again.
Curled up into it again.
And I am so damn sick of being so f–king fragile.
I suppose the gift of this particular type of fragility is that it’s made it clear how much of a particular kind of strength I’m used to having, relying on, turning to… And I know the fragile is its own kind of strength. And I know the other kinds of strength are still in me or I wouldn’t be writing this.
I wouldn’t be writing anything.
And I don’t think I will ever again take any type or part of my strength for granted, especially if I ever reconnect to the versions of strength from which I feel so disconnected.
It’s just that knowing I’m strong is different than feeling it and I’m so damn tired.
I know I need to stop. Breathe. Remind myself.
Remind myself that fragile is not the same as broken.
That vulnerability is not weakness.
That pain is not the enemy.
But, holy jumping jellybeans –