Sing for the joy that's found in setting up the pins and knocking them down

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Manageable Grief

I cry a little every day whether I want to or not.  Usually the tears come on their own, but if they don't, I sit down and figure out how to make it happen--maybe some pictures, listening to an old voice mail, breathing his shirts in deeply, reaching to the cool side of the bed, there are a thousand things that bring tears these days.  It's my plan to stay ahead of it.  I know it's probably a useless exercise, but it's my way of taking manageable bites out of my giant sized grief.

This plan probably fits my personality.  I would like to think that I'm the type of person that would love a huge surprise party, but I'm not.  I would wonder how in the world I had missed the signs that something was being planned for me.  For me, I also enjoy the anticipation of something.  For me the planning is an important part of the whole thing.  I think that's how I felt about Eric's death before it happened.  I didn't want it to catch me off guard.  We would live an event and then I would replay it in my mind without him--not everything we did, but certainly many things.  It became a way of life.  We would do a family Christmas, I would take maybe a minute to think about the whole thing without him, make a note that I could probably survive that and then I'd move on and the thought was gone.  This mental game was usual wrapped up with the thought, "I could do it if I had to it.  It wouldn't kill me." When I admitted it to Eric he would say it was a little morbid and no doubt it definitely was.  He warned against those thoughts ruining the joy of our present life and I assured him that it really didn't.  In a strange way it probably made me very thankful that he was there in that moment and I didn't have to do things without him.

What I couldn't anticipate was the emptiness that would go along with doing these routine or sometimes wonderful things without him.  We laugh, keep it together, fool the untrained eye, but inside we all feel a little fake.  He was our compass.  We took more direction from him than I would have ever imagined.  Being able to imagine this emptiness would have crippled me, stolen my joy.  I'm thankful for those limits to my imagination over the years. 

I shed my tear today when I signed paperwork at the dentist.  There his name was, on the line right above where the well-meaning hygienist asked me to sign.  He would have never known that there was anything more than routine to him signing a silly dental consent form.  But today, it caught me off guard and gave me a perfect opportunity for a manageable bite of grief.