After I heard the news I wept. Not right after the news specifically, but after I called everyone. One would think saying it over and over again would laminate it over in my mind, "I have bad news....I am so sorry....she is gone.....I love you too." That it would soften the blow each time I said such ugly words. "I am so sorry, she is gone." I am always the one to make the calls, because it is what I do. I am the calm one. The one that can lambaste the information quickly and slightly monotone one phone call after another in rapid succession. I knew that it would be too hard for my grandmother or mother to have to keep relaying the news to others, so I became the Paul Revere of death. Crying out the information to anyone that would listen, "The grief is coming! The grief is coming!" I wanted to help, no I needed to help. To do something, anything but sit there and think about what was to come next.
Then I went in the kitchen wiped my face and had a violent argument with myself. Took stock in my own feelings. I did not want to go through this. I do not want to grieve. I hate this and I know exactly what it is going to feel like. The pain and devastation, the anger of loss. I don't want to do it and so I declared that I wouldn't. I simply wouldn't grieve the loss of my loved one. Instead, I dried the last of my tears off of my raw face and made dinner.
I am good at distraction. I am a semi closeted control freak. Usually, when a loved one passes, I immerse myself in the plans of what is to be done next. Funeral arraignments and helping the family consume the time normal people use to grieve. I do not allow grief for my own loss until everything is in order and over with. I have to be strong for my family. I am here to provide a function of getting what needs to be done, done so they can deal with the pain. I am good at distracting my feelings because it needs to be that way during this time. And so I wipe off my tears and make dinner, and do laundry, and make phone calls, and set up plans, and send flowers.
But this time is different. I am not making plans and funeral arraignments because I am not there. I am here and I have nothing to consume myself with. I can feel the deep overwhelming pull of grief swirling within me and yet I am unable to touch it with my fingers. Unable to immerse my hands in it's black gritty desperation. Unable to stick my palms into it's sticky darkness. I am simply waiting for it to reach me...
I have found myself doing 'busy work" to make the time sludge along faster. Making pointless pintrest posts and reading too many mind numbing facebook statuses. Watching B movies with the sound off. Internally planning upcoming events. There are birthdays and Thanksgiving and Christmas still to come. I am careful to avoid the mental mine fields that would hasten the memory of loss. Birthdays are fine to think about because her's was in May, and Thanksgiving is just turkey and stuffing, but Christmas is off limits. I will think of what to get my children, and husband, and follow down the line until I reach her name. Except it wont really be her name anymore, just a gaping black hole where her name used to be. Almost as if her name was written on yellowed brittle parchment only to have been scratched out and excised with a scalpel. I am afraid if I look closely I can still see where it used to be and then my battle to avoid my feelings will be lost.
I am scared. I am scared that soon this facade will crumble and my mask will fall to the floor exposing what I know to be true. What I am currently and openly denying is happening. That I am not okay. I don't want to go through this. I do not want to feel this. I do not want to hurt like this and yet I know it is coming. It is a delayed reaction. It is much like watching a train barreling towards you as you try to jump to safety only to realize it is too late. You have already been hit by the train, you just don't know it yet. I am aware I have been struck, I am just waiting for it to arrive. I am waiting for the grief to overcome my paltry defenses and make me deal with it. Make me look at it's hideous face. Make me spill out my tears and tear out my own heart. I am sitting here waiting because I have no delusions of grandeur. It will come....and I will lose.
Rest in peace Aunt Patti,