I wear my grief differently. It was a discussion my mom and I were having today. I mentioned how people are constantly asking me how she is doing, and basically how, well, I’m tired of it. It has nothing to do with not caring. It’s just that I feel people are looking for a response that I simply cannot give them. What they are looking for is hope. It’s understandable. They want her to be ok. Of course they do, so do I. Hell, she wants to be ok too. But guess what? She isn’t. Her husband is still dead, and her body screams at her in pain. There is a huge gaping hole in her heart, and it fucking hurts.
And then it hit me. When was it that people stopped asking me about how I’m doing? I can’t really even recall. There are a few here and there who ask, but overall, it’s always, “How is your mom doing?” I don’t hold it against anyone, it just got me thinking, and here is the conclusion I have come to- I wear my grief differently. My mom is constantly posting, writing, and talking about her grief- every day, in some form or another. It’s out there. She tears up and falls apart more frequently. She doesn’t hold back. Compared to her, I appear to be ok. And on the surface, I am. I teach my classes, I socialize, I laugh and smile, I post positive and loving messages, I am outwardly excited to be heading out on the road for 6 months with my mom. For all intents and purposes, my life is “normal” again. Until it’s not. And it comes on sudden and unexpectedly. Triggers are what we call them, and they can be a real bitch.
I think because I appear to be happy, most folks assume I have moved on (whatever that means). And that’s likely why they don’t ask. Now mind you, I don’t want people asking all the time, cause guess what? The answer is still the same. My grief is still very much present and a monumental part of who I am. It has taken me to a depth of compassion, understanding, love, and heartache that I never would have been able to comprehend without my experience. I just don’t wear it on my sleeve anymore. Neither way is better or worse, they are just different. My relationship with my dad was different than the one he shared with my mom. Obviously. Neither of us love him more, just differently. He was a part of her day to day. I haven’t had that since I lived at home. It’s easier for me to imagine he is still adventuring out on that great open road- that I just haven’t talked to him in awhile, but will soon.
And then while driving home from a magical day in Sedona, AZ, my mom’s car slams into a deer (or rather, that ass of a deer slams into her car). Suddenly, in that moment, my world is turned upside down. I want my dad. I want him for me, but honestly even more, I want him for my mom. He was her person. I at least had mine waiting for me at home. Want to hear something even more strange? I have momentary guilt about that. It’s completely irrational, and intellectually I understand that. But my heart screams anyway and starts playing that fun game of the why’s and what if’s. “Why is it that I get to run into the safe, loving arms of my husband, but my mom doesn’t?” *meltdown* “What if my mom had been killed? She is the only parent I have left.” *meltdown* “What if I had been killed? How would my mom handle that?” *meltdown* They come sporadically, but when they do they hit like a ton of bricks. Sobbing, loss of stability in my legs, nausea, hyperventilation….and I am never prepared.
Be assured, my grief is ever present, but settles in a way that isn’t so obvious- even to me at times. The one thing I do know is that this is all NORMAL. And that brings a weird sense of comfort.