Matt, You would think after 5 years, I would have a handle on my grief. Maybe a small part of my heart started to believe the myth that time would soften the blow of your death. Maybe to survive I had to think the pain would not always have the crushing power it did in those early days. Perhaps to continue my journey on earth without you I had to live briefly the fantasy that society wants me to believe.
My reality is the polar opposite. This grief continues to hit unexpectedly, but just as powerfully as it always has. I call them rogue waves. I thought that the passing of time would at least soften the edges of my grief. Sadly, I’m finding those edges remain sharp. Like jagged pieces of glass ready to rip my heart to shreds once again.
These waves continue to hit at unexpected times. Days when I think I’ve got a shred of control over my emotions I find quite the opposite. I don’t know if it’s the stress of my cancer diagnosis or just the fact that I continue to rethink your struggle with addiction. Perhaps I’ve got too much time on my hands now as I recover from back surgery and have had to put my advocacy work on the back burner. I’m no longer physically capable of running to meetings or being your voice in Legislative Hall. I’m no longer able to keep my mind busy with changing the broken system that took your life. Time gives my mind the opportunity to relive it all over and over again.
My empathy for your pain is heightened. I now get it. Back surgery is no picnic and this recovery has tested my patience. I think about how I just didn’t understand your pain. It’s like any other situation. Until you live it you can’t get it.
So now my insides churn like an unsettled sea. I feel like I’m being turned inside out. I want to lash out at people who think addiction was your choice. Who think addiction is a moral flaw. My anger rises to the surface when I least expect it. Like those rogue waves it leaves me struggling to regain control.
I rethink your last days until I can think no more. I want to physically hurt the man who dumped you off at a motel to die rather than doing the right thing by taking you to the ER or a detox center. I want him to hurt physically and emotionally like your death has hurt me. I want him rotting in jail with no hope of ever seeing the blue sky or hearing the birds sing. I want him to die alone as much as I want you to be alive.
My grief is now multifaceted. I grieve us both. I grieve for what used to be. I grieve the son you once were and the woman I once was. I grieve for the future that could have been but now will never be. I grieve the grandchildren my arms will never hold. I grieve watching my boys grow old together. I grieve the years we have lost, the future we will never share.
My grief and my anger walk hand and hand. Dancing through my mind. I am helpless to contain either when the reality of life hits with the power of those rogue waves knocking me off my feet leaving me struggling to find the surface to catch my breath. Grief is a powerful and never ending emotion. It does not tell time. It does not conform to societies perception that time softens the blow of death.
I’ve learned that my grief will last a lifetime. As will my anger over your unnecessary, untimely death. I’ve learned those waves are out there and will hit again and again. I’ve learned that I am helpless when they hit and all I can do is ride them to the best of my ability.
Surviving my reality, your death and my cancer is a challenge. Never did I see either coming. I’ve learned life is fragile and full of unexpected events. I’ve learned that grief is a part of who I am and will remain a part of my life until I cease to be……….