It’s been over two years since my wife died and I’m still shocked, unprepared and overwhelmed when grief demands attention. Don’t get me wrong, I’m doing fine at least compared to most of the quasi-functional world. Right now, I happen to be profoundly frustrated with the unexpected and covert cloak grief now wears in my life. It isn’t like it was before; in your face and inescapable. Or even when it decided to move beside you so you could parent, work, exist. The grief I seem to now frustratingly try to recognize and embrace is camouflaged in daily life.
November is an exciting month. It’s my daughter’s birthday and as a family we love to celebrate birthdays. My daughter and I began planning a party for her friends and one for family. Selecting dates, meals, guest list, cake flavours, etc, are all par for the planning of our celebrations. Not fancy or complex but, I found myself anxious, short tempered, problems sleeping and grinding my teeth. Another thing, was that I didn’t want to watch anything new on Netflix…only reruns. Odd, right? Anyone else regress into the familiar? I shrugged it all off to the stress of planning the parties. But normally it wouldn’t stress me out. Why now? Veiled beneath the obvious was the true culprit of these symptoms.
Allison loved to plan amazing parties! Her passion and love for our daughter energized the atmosphere for anyone who was welcomed into our home to celebrate. My subconscious thoughts of Allison missing yet another birthday was beneath the cracked surface of my psyche. Peeling more layers away I lament that my daughter will miss having her biggest cheerleader and strongest advocate at every event, forever. A subject I thought I had dedicated enough mental energy to acknowledging at every other event over the last two years! Tragedy yet again demands recognition during a month of celebration. Grief – you have perfect timing.
Since we’re on the topic, how about the fear grief inspires in me. I’ve been seeing someone over the last several months but I’ve been guarded about getting emotionally close. She is funny, brilliant, dynamic and an outstanding mother who accepts my dysfunctional self. But it’s me (as I choke on the cliché). My life is just vaguely disguised as under control and I feel if I allow any semblance of vulnerability it could spin out of control again. I can’t let down that newly woven boundary; not now. I try to face my problems head on but why have I not been able to resolve these feelings of fear? I guess they are familiar but now foreign emotions, contextually the same yet confusingly different. Thus I cannot, or more accurately chose to not yet have resolution?
I’m a hopeless romantic and I yearn that this not be my impenetrable state forever. Yet in conflict, my guarded internal cynic nods a defeated acceptance of my self-isolation. I do not see its end. The struggle leaves me shouting at the subtle pervasive waves of grief in frustration. Release my ankles from your grip!