I realize that I have a tendency to reflect a lot here, but the point of the blog, when I started it, was to give voice to things I just didn’t have the ability or the company to say out loud. I didn’t go to therapy, I know everything I’m going through, or seem to know. I know what I feel guilty about. I know what I loved about my wife. I know how hard the last year and a half have been, I didn’t really need anyone to tell me how it wasn’t going to be easy. I knew my kids might need it, and some did. I knew they needed me to be less the gruff, hardened Dad and soften more than I normally might have been.
But there is light. The reason this whole blog didn’t start until October . . . when Andrea passed in March . . . was because I wasn’t sure I was seeing any of the light. I had four kids and I loved them more than anything. I needed to get to the point where I was in a routine and able to take care of them. I started when the routine started to settle and I realized that I still hadn’t come fully through the veil of grief that had enveloped me.
The other reason is that we had fallen so far that I didn’t think it was possible to get back up. The dark was black as ink and I was nearly swallowed by the deep pull of it. It’s easy to fall into that place, it really is. Just losing your wife can be the worst thing in the world. I lost her, our home, was facing a pay cut, was facing moving out of California in order to survive. I couldn’t keep Abbi in her school because tuition was too much. Basic survival, those were the things that were swirling around me. When I thought it couldn’t get much worse it did. I wasn’t sure at all that we’d come through the other side.
Until we wished on those damn cranes. I know I wrote about this before. There’s a point here.
There’s a Japanese tradition that if you wish on 1,000 paper cranes your wish may come true. When we had fallen my Hannah’s class folded 1,000 of them and gave them to us. They folded more and made a piece of art for us. While I know that I’d been looking as hard as I could for work that would help me stay, that I applied for Social Security for the kids, that I was looking for a home . . . none of it seemed to be working. But a short time after I was offered a job. We got a home and then we got the kids’ social security. Our wish? Help us stay here . . . the kids’ home. I never really thought of it as mine, but it’s really the longest we’d stayed anywhere. They needed one stable thing – one piece of land to dig their toes into that wouldn’t change.
I’ve been in the darkness. I would say it’s not a good place – and it isn’t – but it is easy to let it envelop you. I don’t think a lot of people understand how much you want to feel this. The hurt is so bad and there are waves, almost like a riptide, that folds around you and pulls you under. In the beginning it’s hard to fight. You hate this but you accept it, too.
But at some point you see the light. It’s not a “walk into the light” thing, at least it wasn’t for me. It’s more like driving through a fog and it starts to burn away. You don’t really notice you’re not there anymore until it’s grey . . . then it’s spots of grey . . . and then you see the sky. This isn’t just grief, it’s all of it.
I know this, and two people I care about are now going through this. One lost her job, her husband taking a massive pay cut. They have kids. They care for others. What do you do when that much comes onto your shoulders at the same time?
You give the cranes away. We made it through to the point where the grey is fading. It’s not all light, no, but there’s more light than dark. For them the inky darkness was looming. They needed a glow of some sort. I kept the picture, the extra cranes, but I spoke with the kids and we gave away the cranes. It wasn’t that we knew it helped us or that it was a sure thing.
It’s that we got the thoughts, support, and love from people around us.
So I gave away 1,000 cranes. I can only hope they still have some magic left.