I realize, as I said yesterday, that I tend to be too reflexive in these posts lately. I talk about how I met my wife, how we fell in love, the engagement, the marriage, all of that. Understand, this blog has always been both how our story begins and the love story that got us to where we are. It would be like reading a book trilogy – “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” without reading “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” first; or “The Two Towers” without first “The Fellowship of the Ring”. Doing that is a disservice to the plot and to the story itself. Our new story can’t begin without going occasionally to the beginning.
But that’s the key adverb, isn’t it? “Occasionally”.
If you go back and read the posts over the last many months I would hope you see that it’s not just me pouring out grief and hurt. Even my post on the anniversary of Andrea’s passing was very forward-looking, something all four kids and I were adamant be the case. It would be too easy, given what we lost, to sit in the past, going back to get hurt over and over again. If you’ve never suffered a loss . . . actually, more appropriately . . . if you’ve never suffered a loss of someone as close and intense as ours, you have no idea how darkly appealing it is to go to that place and dwell, swirling in the deep intensity of the emotions that grief brings. There is a point in the hours, days, for some it may be weeks after they lose someone that they have to make that choice: to start writing on the page again or to re-read the stilted lines from before over and over again.
I cannot give you a determination as to when I moved to the latter. I wish I could. There is a reason many people say “don’t make any major decisions in the first days after their death.” It’s because your mind is mush, hazy, sleep deprived and almost drugged in its emotional state. If your love or passion burned that brightly it stands to reason that the pull to falter is that much more intense. I do believe, though, that most of us determine that we need to move forward. As I said yesterday, you cannot run a race while looking over your shoulder. If you do, you’ll get off the track or worse yet run into something or someone and crash.
The other thing is to remember that the consequences of staying in the darkness is to lose the light. (I know that’s a cheesy analogy, but go with it for a minute.) I had four children, amazing little human beings who, if it’s possible, were closer to their Mom than even I was. All four of them were battered and bent, but not broken. When I saw that my young son, who loved his Mom so much, was able to take solace in the fact that his Mom wasn’t going to have to “watch Grandma get sick and maybe die, too” I was able to see I couldn’t sit here like Syd Barrett sinking into the madness. When he added “plus, she’ll be waiting up there for Grandma when she gets sick, so she’ll be happy!” I couldn’t very well act like life wouldn’t go on.
That, by the way, is the key phrase “life goes on”.
Our lives moved ahead. Again, look at our video. Our lives began again. We got another house. We started making music. We eat at the table every night. We ran a couple 5k races. We started doing trips and weekend things together that we weren’t doing before. I took Abbi shopping for school clothes in San Francisco. I drove the PCH all the way down to Los Angeles for my birthday. We all spent the last week in Nebraska with my family, something we’d have said in years past was just too expensive and hard to do. We have started moving ahead. The story is being written, whether we wanted it to be or not. Sure, the first few chapters were badly written, the lines stuttering, the pieces of the story seemingly random at times, but we were writing and the page wasn’t blank any more.
That is why when others come to us after another family suffers a similar loss I get upset and frustrated. My family is moving forward. Sure, there are similarities in families that lose their Mom. There may even be striking similarities, but it’s not like I’ve lost one of my children. I haven’t lost my father or mother. Our good friends from the parish who helped to organize the help we obtained after Andrea died are still around. It’s not a lack of empathy, I feel for these people like nobody else can. I understand like nobody else can. But because others don’t understand, they insist that we grieve with them. In their bad feelings they so want us to feel bad they push and push and needle to get us to reflect on the day we lost Andrea. They made my sons go over the day they lost their Mom.
It’s not that I won’t talk to or reflect on that day. My children have all individually, and together, had days that were very hard and difficult to ignore. I looked back with them on every occasion and helped them to get back to the new pages. Gently, prodding slightly in the right direction, looking to where we thought Mom would want them to be, not losing ourselves to a year ago.
That is the key thing here. Please, in your lack of understanding or confusion of what you’re feeling when grief hits, don’t try to force us back there with you. We’ve been there and it’s painful, dark and cathartic, too. But in the end, we’ve realized we can overcome the darkness. We can get through while realizing that sometimes there’s no time for asking, no going back to get hurt.