It's not a thing I do. I'm a survivor. It's one of those steel core thing I know. I'm a survivor of a lot of truly terrible things, and it's made it simple to walk through minor grief and heartbreaks of my life knowing "this is never as bad as watching your baby sister die of cancer for thirteenish years," or living your life like it was normal "after your mother was admitted long term to the psyche ward."
These things put your life into a context. One your mind can accept. One you can process. One that keep you moving forward, working through the list of things you have to do. The things you have no choice but to do, because beauracy and red tape only has so many seconds for you to not be doing them.
I don't talk about grief. It's not a thing I do. Until I do. Until something knocks it loose. Today it was a exquisitely well written episode of a tv show all about grief, and about the loss of someone you love, and all the different ways that can hit you. That boulder sitting weight as air and heavy as twelve mountains on my lungs if I just dare to look at it. If I just dare not to busy.
Today I am 32. Today my father has been dead exactly a month. Today I'm sitting on my couch crying on my birthday. I had an amazing birthday party last night, with people who love me. I even have good things, with dear loved ones planned for the next seven hours. But I'm sitting on my couch crying, because my father died. I don't talk about grief. It's not a thing I do. Until I do.
I've cried only a handful of times. Probably less than twelve times than in last thirty days. Which is still nine or ten times more than I cried when I was thirteen and my sister died. I was nearly five years into not crying by then, and it took me about eight years before I could even get enough faith in my friends to start breaking myself of that habit. Crying is still a thing that is hard.
I cried the first time, the night I heard, nearly an hour after being told, when I realized suddenly and tragically, so suddenly I couldn't breathe, just how much faith I had in the fact I was going to get fix things with my father someday. Not today, maybe not this year. But Gordon and I hated each other all through my childhood and that was never going to happen, neither of us wanted it. And seventeen years later, we have a relationship and my stepfather hugs me goodbye and wants to know how my job is and to see me and to take care of me in the wake of this grief.
And I just started crying so hard as I realized the last page in my book with my father is about estrangement, lies, abandonment, keeping my family from me/me from them and missed connections. It still hurts so much to know I can't fix that. It's this hole in my heart that I keep sitting on the ground and giving to the universe. To Shakit's 'let it go' jar on my mantle from the RCG path the weekend right after it all happened.
Because I know all it can do is sit there, as a heavy weight, and I can't fix it, because no one will ever be here to fix it with.
I found my bear, my Harmony, the one given to me the Christmas after my sister died, one month before my father died. I thought it had been lost for over six years, and suddenly there it was. My father wasn't supposed to die yet. Everyone says that. But there's so much pressure on the yet more than anything else. Not on the my father wasn't supposed to die.
We found out in the fall he had mass in his throat, and that he'd been hiding a diagnosis of COPD from all of us. He was supposed to have four or five years. We were supposed to have four or five years. All of us, together, there was time. We got five months. They called us about his body being found in the middle of a birthday part for one of the nephews.
The last month has been a rollercoaster of horrors and compassion that I've processed one day at a time. Only one day at a time. The squalor of his apartment, with trash piled half to the ceiling, and drawers of cigarette boxes that showed he'd been smoking like a chimney since getting out of chemo earlier this year. The walls we had to use toxic bleach on because of the level of tar.
Fielding everything that was everything because I am the closest genetic heir and it means there's 85% of stuff only I can do. And I need the agreements of the the other three. My two older brothers in California, whom he abandoned when the oldest was ten. And the adopted stepsister in Kansas, whom was the favorite of all of us. There's no will, and the world of death is made of red tape an many dollar signs.
I'm only beginning to get forwarded mail with his name on it in mailbox daily now.
I cried during the funeral. During the twenty-one gun salute. And when they handed me a flag, thanking me for him. But not while I sat there, thinking about the fact at some point in not-too-near (hopefully) future I'll have three of these. My mother has my sister's in a shadow box in her house, and one day it, and the one that my mother earned, will both come to me. And then my whole family will be in flag shadow boxes.
I'll be the only one who isn't a flag shadow box ever.
The funeral was good. The wake was good. Everything involving my siblings has been truly amazing. We've all done so much with and for each other during this. I've had them all hanging out my house. The first weekend all we did was hangout at my place, watching Babylon 5 in his honor and eating food, because we could not do anything until Monday and no one wanted to be alone and no one could really handle other people, who didn't understand.
I don't talk about grief. It's not a thing I do. I'm a survivor. There have been checklists to run through nearly everyday for my father. Which does not even begin to take into account everything I've had to do for my normal life. For my job. My teaching observation from my principal was 8 am the morning after the funeral.
I had one week of proctoring, and 4 ARDs, and 3 field trips. It doesn't count my religious group meetings, or the meetup I'm running, or the meetup I have an interview to become a co-runner of local chapter of an international women's travel organization. The continual heavy lifting weight training I'm doing at the gym.
Every day I run the gamut of being both happy with the life I'm living and strung up with a stress, anxiety and grief that is pressing down on my like a boulder I can't quite see, or feel, or get my hands around. It's no wonder I let myself fallen into a new writing thing, and then into a world of comics, and then into making icons. Direction and monotony that marks itself as directive distraction.
My birthday is today. Today I am 32. Today my father has been dead exactly a month. I was so confused this week the closer my birthday party, and my birthday got. I lost all of April. My sister's birthday didn't even register on the 15th for hours longer than normal. My sister died on my father's birthday in October. My father died 12 days before my sister's birthday. My father's funeral was 12 days after my sister's birthday and 12 days before mine.
I don't talk about grief. It's not a thing I do. I'm a survivor. I
've survived a lot of things. I don't even question that I'll survive this.
I'm almost actually thankful I've been on medication for eight months for things I, also, don't talk about much. But my birthday is today. Today I am 32. Today my father has been dead exactly a month. And all I know is that all of these things are true, and that I'm walking in and out of crying, for the first time since the funeral, on my couch for something I can't fix and someone I still miss for being gone even though he hadn't yet gotten back to being here..