You live day to day. Getting out of bed, going to work, going to church, doing tasks. You go to the grocery, you talk to people, you answer emails, you pay your bills. The list could go on and on, but suddenly, on one fine day, the sun is shining-you feel pretty good about yourself and the world and….WHAMMO!!!!
You look around your home, your office and even your car and you start to see all the things that your loved one touched, gave you are talked to you about. You reach for your cell phone and want to tell this person about the great joke you saw on the Internet that day, or ask them how they made that special you dish you liked. You see the flower they made you standing in your office, still dripping with the love and attention that this person took to make it special and nice. You realize that the love that person gave to you in this life will never be duplicated. Then the doubts start. Did I really listen to everything they had to say the weeks leading up to their death, or did I simply dismiss them as the ramblings of a degenerating mind and not really take to heart what they said. Did they resent that when they stepped over the river to take the hand of God? Did they think, why wasn’t she there with me holding my hand as I died? Why couldn’t she be there as took that last breath?
As you can see, these aren’t just the doubts of some random person, they are mine. I wasn’t with my mom when she died. I wasn’t with her every minute as she went through the “process”. That is a guilt I will take with me the rest of my life. But as my husband so sagely said, “your cup was full” you couldn’t take another minute of the pain. That is why I was stepped in and the rest of the family did to let you and your Dad deal with it how you could. My husband was with my mom when she died, so was my dad and the hospice nurse. Not me. Not the person that was intended for that. Not the person that my mom showered so much love on her entire life. Not the person that, in her own words, was the reason she kept living when she had cancer as a young woman. I know my Mom isn’t in heaven right now sitting around with my Grandmother and Grandfather saying how disappointed she is with me or how heart broken she was that I wasn’t there. My mom wasn’t that type of person in life, so why would she be that type of person in death? But, to me, I know I hurt her by not being physically present and this is a hurt and pain I deal with on a daily basis.
Grief is funny. It isn’t like any other thing you will ever go through. It hides and relaxes, taking a nap for months on end, then it appears out of nowhere and decides it wants your attention again. One of my friends mentioned that it wasn’t the daily pain it was the emptiness. That is what it is. Emptiness.
I have a full life, don’t get me wrong. I live daily with the love of Christ, my family and friends. I have a good job that takes my time and a church family that is supportive and loving. But its what the veterans call the “empty chair”. It’s when I go to the Chinese restaurant with my Dad and my husband and they say table for three? No! It should be table for FOUR!! Its the anger I get when I hear someone chatting about how they went shopping with their mother over the weekend, they called their mom and she said this or that. My mom was only 65 years old!! I was supposed to be having silly conversations with her, decorating Christmas Trees, going shopping and laughing about the stupid stuff my dad does sometimes for at least another 20 years! My dad shouldn’t be going from room to room in a house dripping with her essence wondering what he will do that day that will take his mind off the searing loneliness that is permeating his life! It isn’t fair!!
Sigh. Sorry, I had to say that. Years ago, I wondered if I would lose my mind when my Mom died. She hadn’t been what a normal person would call “well” for decades. We knew her death was not that distant of a possibility. I wondered if I would collapse mentally, have to quit my job, and retreat into myself for years. I would lay awake at nights wondering what it would be like. When that didn’t happen, and life sort of went on, I thought, wow, this isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. And, for the most part, it really hasn’t been. But there are days, even weeks, where I wonder if I can put one foot in front of the other. As with most people, I hide myself in busyness. But the body can only take so much before it says “no” and you must rest. I had thought about taking a leave from work, but what good would that do I wonder. Work has kept me focused and given me something to direct my energies. I don’t think that is a solution. Running away from life, is never a solution-only a temporary respite.
So, as I felt the world crashing in on me yesterday I felt the still, small voice of God saying. Come to me and I will give you rest. Take my hand, sit down and just be quiet. So that is what I did today. My husband had to work 7 days this week and he is asleep in the other room. There is no TV on, no Radio, no IPOD, no sounds but his distant snoring and the occasional irritated meow from my cat as he insists I come back to bed with him. Tomorrow is a holiday, so I have it off too. I intend to slowly listen to what the Lord is going to say to me, in the quiet of my home. I will listen as I have never listened before.
Every persons walk down the grief trail is different. This, just happens to be mine.