I woke up and it was light.
Friday was a dark, underwater day, but I was forced to rejoin the human race at Trader Joe’s, where a dear friend who happens to work there refused to leave my side, and helped me fill my cart with carbs and ready-made comfort food, while opening my favorite snacks to try along the way (helmsman privileges). Bless.
I drove to visit dad at the cemetery around the corner from home, and it was cold, and the skies are starting to become what I call “Charlie Brown Skies” – you know that watercolor, blurry cloudiness that only comes around in fall. Fleecy, is what I mean. It was beautiful. And I found my way to dad, and took some photos so I could orient myself by finding him in relation to the trees, and stood in silence, breath catching. I thought about Thanksgivings growing up for some reason, with the parade first, then the football game on in the background, and the warm smells, and the clink of dishes. I can still hear the way he sipped, to keep his mustache out of his Merlot. We haven’t celebrated a thanksgiving together in years, and truthfully, the last few we shared were really awful lol. But that’s not how grief or memory works, right? So many things are not like math. It’s the selective highlights. I know that standing by his grave, I only remembered the snapshots of the good memories. And I suspect that’s just fine.
In some way, I know to expect this tidal grief, though I don’t know if every grief is different. I know it’s different for every person, but I don’t know if it’s different for every recurrence. When my mom got sick, there was the initial storm, which lasted quite a while, and then the waters would recede, and then for a few weeks it was like rogue waves out of nowhere; while driving, while at the grocery store, I’d just get hit. Eventually, they subsided and we all went through the illness with her, and she’s been in remission for 22 months now; life went on. All that to say, it was the typhoon, then the drawdown where everything was calm, then the waves. Yesterday, I felt the tide draw down, and I’m grateful for that.
Another dear friend texted me yesterday and reminded me; “it’s okay to feel happy while grieving – it isn’t all sad all the time, and either way, you’re not doing it wrong or dishonoring your dad by feeling moments of joy amidst the pain.” I’m so thankful for these friends, God’s hands and palms and fingerprints everywhere. Because of course it feels disloyal, and of course it isn’t. Dad was not one for this anyway; he’d give a “ho hooo” chuckle and grab his glass and slurp a loud slurp and then wave away the words and shuffle away in his moccasin slippers, plopping down in front of a book. Grief is strange. The human condition is strange.
Anyway, the tide is out. It still feels like I have been given perspective at the highest cost, and I really don’t want to lose it or forget it, but I can already feel the edges becoming fuzzy as they blend into the days. I don’t want to forget how thisclose God has felt, and the stark contrast between what Matters and everything else that does not. But I cannot quite hold on to it, despite my desperate grasp, and around the edges, I feel lighter today. I want to enjoy my head being above water, even though a few days ago, I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to enjoy anything again.