I can’t get my hands warm. Since the news last week, my hands are in a constant state of cold. I keep the gas fire on until my small town home is nearly stifling, but my hands still tingle.
Late last night, I goggle searched “death of a parent”. The most common signs of grief, according to some non-descript, almost flowery Web site I find (all these types of sites, btw, are either clinical or flowery in nature) are feeling alone, loss of appetite and not being able to sleep. Got it. Got it. Got it. Interestingly enough, when I have sadness or tears, I recognize I'm bemoaning what I lost; when I reflect instead on all that I gained in our relationship while time remained to do so, I'm at peace. It’s the extraneous that gets to you. Here’s some of what I’ve learned in the 118-some hours since my Dad died suddenly:
As human beings, we should try to exude more basic warmth. The weight is easier when you feel the load is shared and understood and common to us all. Even gestures as simple as allowing a car over in the traffic lane, or asking someone with fewer groceries if they’d like to go first.
There is no “right” and “wrong” way to grieve, behave or react when a living thing dies. We all do it like we can do it, whether as task master, quickly tying up loose ends and taking care of business matters at hand, or not speaking for two days, or crying in the shower, or getting angry, or writing it out, or seeking comfort in a boy you once loved and who once loved you back, or getting drunk, or spending too much money for a black dress you may never wear, or simply moving forward.
I have more love surrounding me at all times, in quiet fashion, than I allow myself to see and be aware of.
The best thing my Dad ever did for me was not insist I stay and live and raise a family in a small town in Pennsylvania, pop. 7000, that is depressed, where the average salary is $25k a year and the role of women is to create children and serve a husband. I never believed my Dad really understood my desire for more education, more independence, more money, more things, more passion, more worldliness, but I’m beginning to think he knew all along the old-school family way could never be me. And shouldn't be.
The desire to live must be stronger than the desire to no longer try.
The people you call family aren’t necessarily always those with whom you share a blood tie. I am from a family of dozens.
For the past several days, I’ve listened over and over to the song that follows. I didn’t understand why it made me feel…okay. Why I hit the back key time after time after time. I just got it. And I’m grateful. You may not get what I know, but it’s a message to me.