Grief is like a snowflake? If you want to be poetic about it, okay. If you want to be honest about it, which I am going to be, grief is a demonic fucker that sneaks up on you when you least expect it.
I buried my father seven years ago today. The morning of the funeral I was up until nearly 2:00 a.m. finishing the eulogy. I have no idea how I functioned that day because eight hours later I was heading back home, back to the funeral home where I’ve had to bury almost every key person in my life. I stood up in front of family and friends and brought the house down. The rabbi went up after me, saying “She’s a tough act to follow.” My father’s co-workers came up to me afterward, blown away by what I had written and how I speak in public. A few of them had known him for 40+ years, others nowhere near as long, but they all came, right before Christmas, and paid their respects. I can say a LOT about that because it’s a level of respect that I respect and appreciate. It’s something I will never forget. My father’s own family (all but a few did not live locally), never bothered to show up at the funeral, call, or send so much as a card. I damn near kicked a headstone over this disrespect at the neighboring cemetery where, in four inch heels, I flipped out at my Uncle’s grave and told him he should be ashamed of his family. The tone of voice I was using was enough to probably break bone. If any of them ever need an exact match for tissue or organ donation, I would have to seriously re-think my views on “family” because I don’t tolerate disrespect. There are moments in life when you truly see everyone for who and what they truly are. Sometimes it’s heartening, and other times it makes you murderous.
I’ve been sitting here for the last few hours wondering why I feel so terrible. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. I’ve wondered if I was coming down with a cold, and a plethora of other issues. While it is entirely possible that I have a cold in my system, the truth just hit me: I’m upset and when I realized the date, I changed my plans for the day. I don’t want to have a nervous breakdown in public. I will make sure the two places I need to go are open tomorrow and go then, because it’s not an emergency, but it does need to get done before everything shuts down on Christmas Eve, which I totally understand and respect. I think the only thing that will be open Christmas Day is Walmart (Every year I call them to check, expecting a different answer. Every year they tell me “We never close.”) and the movie theater, and probably a Chinese restaurant or two. I’m cooking, so I want fresh ingredients because I am on some insane mission to get through the rest of this year without going ballistic or tearing someone apart. I’m not certain the latter won’t happen. There is a LOT I can accomplish in eight days.
Today, it’s okay to have a mini-meltdown in the privacy of my own home. It’s okay to be upset and angry, and to feel abandoned.
I thought I’d reached the stage of acceptance. Maybe I have, but that doesn’t mean loss is not upsetting to me. When you lose your parents young, the way you view life is very different than it is if you lose your parents at a more appropriate age, like 90. We all live hoping to make it past retirement age, but the truth is, even though many of us say that a specific age is “too old”, we still want to live into the future. Our desire to survive is still present. A family friend once said “I’m never retiring. I’ll still work when I’m 100, so long as I can do so.” He’s a good person, a hard worker, and I pray he makes it to 100 and can see his grand-daughters grow up, maybe even become a great-Grandfather and be able to enjoy that too.
My father never got to see any of those things. I don’t know that he would have truly been interested to do so, but still, it hurts. I do not hurt solely for myself. I hurt for my brother, who really needs a parental figure in his life right now. My father was everything to him. He is not as strong as I am and I spend a lot of time worrying about him because he & I are so different. It’s hard to believe we’re brother and sister, unless it comes down to our sense of humor, passion for things that are important to us, and small things that brand you as “siblings” to others, even if you don’t look alike.
Losing a family member is never easy. Losing one during the holidays is very hard. Having to re-live it year after year is a choice. I tried working through it, but sometimes it creeps up out of nowhere and slaps me across the face. I remember it happening last year too. I did so well on the anniversary of his death, but today, I just have to let myself cry and grieve. Odd as it sounds, tomorrow will come with an entirely different set of emotions.
As the great Billy Crystal has often said “Grieving is a process.”
copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.