Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Past Behind

Grief sucks. Just saying.

The past few weeks have been nothing but a blur of emotions, highway markers, late night and early morning road trips, and probably more coffee than would ever be okayed by a physician. On top of trying (and failing miserably) to process a flood of thoughts and feelings I genuinely have no frame of reference to compare to, I've been trying to wrap my mind around the fact that both of my parents are now gone.

Before I continue writing and you continue reading, let me just toss out this one caveat about this blog entry: I know that many, many well-meaning people will sincerely and genuinely make a comment about my mom and dad in heaven, reunited with their families, being in the presence of God, and so on. And while I do believe this and draw some small amount of comfort from it, right now I also don't give a damn. My parents are dead, and I'm pissed. I'm human. So if my failing to mention something beautiful about Paradise in this post will potentially cheese you off, please go watch kitten videos on YouTube instead.

When my dad passed away five years ago, it ripped a hole in me that I wasn't expecting. There are so many things that go unsaid between fathers and sons, things which are spoken of in volumes through glances or understanding moments of silence between them. For about three months after Kai was born, after my dad had been gone for six months, I still almost by rote started to dial his office number, just so I could tell him something amazing/ridiculous/cute/frustrating that Kai had done that morning. But I couldn't. I was never able to share any of these moments with my dad, since he died before Kai was born.

In the last few months before my mom died, she finally got the hang of FaceTime, so I was able to "chat" with her with Eli in my lap so she could see how often he tried to grab the phone to eat it. It was cute, since it meant he got to hear her voice (and my sister's) while she watched him learning to eat solids, fail at crawling, and drool like a waterfall. The idea that right now, at this moment, I can't continue to do that with her is beyond my  understanding.

Grief sucks hard. Just saying.

I keep waiting for the One Cathartic Moment (TM) where all my emotions will come flooding out. But it hasn't happened yet, and I feel like this lead weight is just trapped inside my chest.

There have been moments - small, quiet moments - where the circumstances of my new life has hit me like a ton of bricks, and - again - the reality that she is gone, they are both gone, seems almost too much to bear:

Like how when I went to go buy a tie for her funeral and left with a new suit instead. and I paid for it with the gift card she gave me for Christmas, and I realized that it was the last gift card she'd ever give me...

Like how in a few weeks when Kai turns 5, it will be the first birthday when he doesn't get a gift from her...

Like how Eli will never, ever get a birthday or Christmas gift from her...

Like how I almost laughably thought "Well, traveling for the holidays will be a lot easier now," and then it hit me that Kai will never have another Christmas at her house and how Eli will never have a Christmas ever at her house...

Like how the only photos Eli will have of the two of them were taken during the first three months of his life. And that's it...

Like how Kai won't be signing a birthday, Mother's Day, or ay other card for her again, and how Eli never will...

Grief is pure shit. Just saying.

I'm trying to wrap my mind around how every comment, every thought, every...everything...surrounding my parents will now be in the past tense. That how the headstone sitting in the cemetery with both their names chiseled into it is a marker of an ending. That I can't, no matter how desperately I may want to, I can not grab and hold onto it, dragging it into the future with me. That it would eventually become a millstone I choose to hang around my own neck, purposefully willing myself to be weighted down by my grief, hanging on to a past that should stay behind and become memories that inspire joy, not pain.

I recently remarked that I was in many ways thankful that I was still a stay-at-home dad now, because if I were in an office environment, I'd go nuts. As it is, I have two wild and crazy boys to all but forcibly shake me out of the stupor I would otherwise allow myself to be in. I have to be in the here and now for them, and not in the past.

When I was delivering the eulogy at my mom's funeral (which, parenthetically, I'm not sure what the crap I said; I know what I wrote down, but I have no idea what I said), at one point, Eli sneezed. Or cooed. Or made some kind of baby noise, whatever. What I do remember is looking over at where Ashley was trying in vain to make him sit still, and I made a comment aloud (...oops...) that was something along the lines of "Thank you for the sign of life."

"Thank you for the sign of life."

Grief is a bitch. I hate that I feel this way, I hate that it makes my heart hurt, I hate that I feel like so much of me will never be healed.

But in the midst of changing the verb tenses of the stories I share about my parents, I have to - I have to - keep part of me moving. Going. Looking for those little signs of life that don't overwrite the past, but underscore it as a foundation of which to grow on.

One day, the pain will be what I leave behind.

One day.

Just saying.


Andrea Cumbo said...

Sonny, there are no words that will bring comfort. I know because none did for me then and most don't now. But this has always helped me - to know I am not alone in my grief. You are not alone my friend. That is the best I have to offer.

Sonny Lemmons said...

Thanks, friend - knowing I'm not alone in this journey is one of the few things keeping me relatively grounded and sane during all of this.

Relatively. ;)

Addie Zierman said...

I love the honest way you're writing through the brutality of this grief. It will bring comfort to many, friend. Hopefully one of those people will be you, that as you begin to work through these new realities, you will find more signs of life. All the love to you and yours.

Kristy Tolley said...

My mom just died February 26th, and your post really resonates with me. I can't imagine this ever NOT sucking. Although I have the hope that she is in Heaven, and I believe she will be in my future; right now it isn't really making my present without her less shitty. I'm still in the anger stage, I guess.

Bethany Suckrow said...

Grief is the shittiest. I know you feel deep in the trenches of it right now, but I just want you to know, we're here sitting in it with you friend. Sending you so much love. <3

Leanne Penny said...

I understand, I lost both my parents as well and if there is anything I can do, if you want to Vox about it know that I'm here and I get it. Being orphaned is this chasm of grief and weirdness.