I have this hopeful notion…still….that I’m going to wake up from this hellish dream. Yet, I never wake to that reality. Instead, I wake to a nightmare…each and every day. I also have this notion that some day I’ll wake up and the pain will subside. I have yet for that to happen….and I really never expect that to really take place either. It’s funny the notions you hold of grief until you’re in the thick of it. Many of my previous notions of grief existed because of my limited experience with loss. Grief was something that I thought people just got over…or something that just got better with time….We all know that time heals all wounds, right? It was something that I viewed from the comfort of my unbroken world. Grief was something that I experienced on a surface level. It was an emotion of sadness and compassion for those who had lost a close loved one…I might go home and feel sad for a day or two after the funeral, but beyond that, I went back to my normal life. That’s what we all do….we go back to living our life with our families and enjoying their company….until it happens to us. I did it too…it’s natural. But now, I live on that lonely side where life is never the normal it once was. When that normal has existed for 23 years, 2 years, 14 years, or even 45 years…it’s engrained in everything you do. From the texts you send every single day to the calls you make each afternoon to the face times you have once or twice a week. From the family occasions like the 4th of July or Memorial Day or the simple family dinners that occur a couple of times a month…the normal that once existed is permeated by the absence of your loved one into a new normal for all family interactions. It’s that “new normal” you hear others speak of. But, you can’t really grasp the gravity of a new normal without an important family member….until they are no longer with you.
Just when I think I have a handle on this new normal, a tidal wave of grief hits me out of nowhere…..I mean completely blindsided. Last night, I saw the wave building, but I pushed it aside….thinking it might be one of those waves that looks ominous, but eventually just drifts over you. No…not this one…this wave grew and grew until it’s only option was to crest and to crash…..and crash it did. The wave that engulfed me last night, left me in a heap on the floor, balled into a fetal position gasping for air. The tears came so forcefully that my entire body shook and convulsed from the sadness in my heart. Guttural sounds emerged from deep within….sounds that I didn’t even know I could make. And those sounds continued as long as the convulsions continued. After about 10 minute, I released myself from the arms of my loving husband. I needed deep breaths to regain some semblance of composure. That took another 10 – 15 minutes. By the time the wave had passed, I was completely and totally exhausted…nothing left in me….almost void of thought and feeling. Sleep even evaded me…after all of that, you would think that sleep would fall at your feet….but not for me…I had to take something to relax my overworked mind and body….something to soften the raw edge of emotions that assaulted me relentlessly. All of this happened after merely seeing a picture of Aaron that I had never seen. Something that should have evoked pure joy, brought me to my knees….and I never saw it coming.
i know that the grieving parents, siblings, grandparents, spouses, sons/daughters reading this understand where I’m coming from. I know you, better than anyone understand the enormity of those waves when they hit. And I know that you understand the aftermath following the wave. I thought by now, that these waves would be smaller. I thought for some reason that by now, I would still be sad, but that I wouldn’t be experiencing these raw, “in the storm emotions” as much at this point. Maybe that’s because I’m putting limits on my grief for the sake of society. After all, we have to portray a sense of being ok so that others will see how strong we are. Perhaps I’m putting time limits on my grief unknowingly because many find it uncomfortable to see me cry. Who knows….maybe it’s just the unpredictability of grief. I think that’s one of the hardest parts of this type of grief….the unknown. You never know how a situation might “set you off”….how a memory might drop you to your knees….or how you might just lose it in the middle of the store around perfect strangers. Seventeen months later, I’m still experiencing the inability to control those raging emotions…just when I thought I was getting a handle on it.
So, are you waiting for the silver lining…the making lemonade out of lemons? Actually, I was struggling with this until I was messaging my friend, Jessica. She asked me to tell her about Aaron….and it was then that I could find the silver lining in the clouds of my sadness. She forced me to look for the silver in my sadness….and it felt so good to see that silver brilliantly shining through. In my conversation with her, I realized, that I was able to get those raging emotions out in my own home under the care of a very loving husband. She helped me to remember so many happy memories that were buried under the clouds of my sadness. One of those memories was the chubbiness of my baby boys hands. Those sweet little chubby hands often reached for me and often wrapped around me when I needed it most. They also loved to build things…blocks and puzzles were two of his favorite toys as a child. He loved to put things together and take them apart….and he was good at it. Something else she helped me to remember was that my grief is the display of that love that I carry for Aaron with nowhere to go….such a beautiful love…even if I have to express it through my grief….right? Yet another silver lining… while my love for Aaron is expressed through grief now, I can still express my love for Taylor on this earth. And to Taylor, I want you to know that through all of my sadness, I love you more than you will ever know. Even more, the fact that Aaron was such a jovial person in his carefree times is such a blessed memory to hold on to. That boy could make people laugh when they didn’t feel like laughing. I think he sought for ways to make people laugh or to feel happy, especially when they were down or needed someone. He had that sixth sense to know when someone needed laughter, love, or just a listening ear. He was special in that sense…he could see through the cover on the book….he could see to the inside and could see the hurt….even as a child. I could write more and more…but I plan to save those for future blogs. There’s so much more that I have to tell you about Aaron….there will be more to share.
Until then….I’ll look for the silver linings, even if I can’t see them…and I just might need some of you to help me find those silver linings.
Forever thinking of you, Aaron….and hoping that you are experiencing joy beyond anything you could have ever experienced on this earth.
Thinking of you, Taylor….even though I am different and seem sadder now….know that you are loved more than you know….and that even on my sad days, I work so hard to put your feelings above mine and to focus on the joy we have when we are together.
To Jessica….thank you for helping me see the silver lining tonight. I love you dear friend!