Facebook reminded me of my father’s death 6 years ago in the form of people’s well wishes, and my own grievances captured for infinity on social media. And that’s how I measure the month of March now, and have for the past 6 years. Anytime Facebook chirps up with a reminder from the Marches of my past life, I calculate in my head how far I have to go until the day of my dad’s death, March 14th.
It cheats me, stealing away elements of joy from other pending events, like the birth of my daughter (11th), or my wedding anniversary (27th).
That being said, grief for me, is now much less painful than it was even a year ago. I am not brought to tears anytime I think of him. I’ve stopped having to remind myself that he is dead. I still deal with issues, like reconciling who my dad was to others vs who he was to me, vs who he really was, as himself.
When someone dies, it gives us this opportunity to re-evaluate life, whether we want to or not. Looking at my dad through the eyes of grief has helped me see him, not as I saw him as a child, but as another human being, imperfect and full of regrets. A person who suffered with loss, depression, anger, and injustice. He fought to feel normal, to be happy and content, and to have faith in a God. Maybe it was this perseverance that made his faith beautiful to others, he struggled to believe it. It was the underlying frightened little boy who went off to war and came home fucked-up, that people saw and related with. He walked like he had no doubts, even though deep down, he questioned it daily.
He was either a faithful servant of his God or a stubborn hopeful… but what is faith if not a stubborn hope for something you have no evidence for?
And though my grief has evolved past the days of laying in bed with it, at times it seems an awful lot to bear the thought of not seeing my dad again for what remains of my life. That could be a long time, or I could get COVID-19 and die in two weeks. Life is a gamble. Why we as humans plan anything is a mystery to me. But we do, we go along pretending everything will be okay. Most of the time it isn’t, but again, it’s this stubborn hope, or faith, that keeps us together at the seams.
We move on, don’t we? After our lament, the world begs us to put our sadness in a box and to jump back in the game. Allowing grief to happen is necessary, it is a painful experience we must go through and in time we learn how to navigate and dance with it.
For me it is like this: I picture a little girl waiting for just the right moment to jump in a game of double dutch jump rope. Timing, hearing the wack as the ropes plastic beads hit the cement, knowing that if she does jump in, her calves and ankles will likely feel the sting of the ropes. But how do you avoid that? She can’t. In order to move forward, she has to learn timing and have patience, allow herself the stings and failure…..The dance, it gets easier. But the little girl doesn’t forget the sting of the rope, it stays with her.
Grief doesn’t leave us, it sleeps in. And in the corner of our minds, it is there. It comes to us in the air, when we smell patchouli, or when drinking coffee and watching the way milk mixed with black coffee comes together, a creamy mushroom cloud exploding up and out to the edges of the cup. In music it drums, transporting us back to moments, delicious moments that we can never touch again, but lives on in the encyclopedia of our lives.