Reaching

Reaching out as the floor falls away
Fingertips grazing the edge of oblivion
Shrouded in darkness, I scream.

Infinite drop below my falling body
Weightless.

I take a deep breath and I am saved
Lifted by rough hands, a faceless memory
Of you here with me.

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Draft

There’s a draft that has been sitting in my folder since the early days following my fathers dead. I’m not sure if I will ever publish it, even though I’ve reread it so many times. Maybe I should just delete it… after all, the words are burnt into my memory, I can still feel them being typed out under my fingertips, I can sense their release and then their entrapment.

One Year

I’m going to try my best not to cry today. My stomach is in knots though and I want to vomit. It’s been a year since he passed away. A year since my family and I surrounded my dad in that dreary NHS hospital room and filled it with as much love as we possibly could as we said goodbye. 

I wouldn’t say I have a photographic memory, but I can recall every detail of that room, every minute that ticked by and most importantly, every millimeter of his face. I can feel his skin on my fingertips still. I can hear every sound that echoed through that tiny room, including the sounds of crying and near silent prayers passing each persons lips, begging for the situation to do a 180, for reality to shift a different direction.

I will try not to cry today. I will try to laugh with the kids, to hold them tighter, to hold Curtis tighter and remind them all for the millionth time that I love them. I will send my love the best I can across the many miles to my family. It won’t stop their tears from falling, but it may just stop mine.

  

The Stigma of Grief

I hope my mom doesn’t mind me using her as an example as I write this, but talking to her and reading the words she has expressed to me recently, has me thinking about the stigma of grief. Time.

I call time a stigma of grief, because there seems to be an unspoken timeline that people expect you to “get over” the grief you feel after loss. Most people are aware of the idea that there are five understood stages:

  1. Denial and Isolation – Denying the reality of the situation and rationalizing the emotions and pain.
  2. Anger – The pain surfacing after denial and dealing with it by projecting anger towards people/places/things as a coping mechanism and often in a search for answers.
  3. Bargaining – Trying to regain control by using “If only…” to come to terms with the situation.
  4. Depression – Sadness, regret, sometimes verbalized, sometimes dealt with quietly and often helped by understanding and support both verbal and physical.
  5. Acceptance – A stage some never reach.

The last stage, Acceptance, is one that that sticks out to me most significantly. It is the stage that not everyone will reach and it isn’t a stage that means you are happy with the situation that has unfolded, but rather you have reached a point in your mourning that you are able to move forward with coping mechanisms. The waves of grief still come, but you may not be searching for answers still, you may have let go of the anger you had felt.

So with understanding that there is somewhat of an order, then surely there is no real timeline to how long you mourn. Yet, I often see people using terms like “Aren’t you over that yet?/Can’t you just let it go and move on?” to people who are in the thick of this emotional storm. Would you ask a person who has been given a bed of nails, whether they slept well? What answer would you expect?

I’m not writing this to put anyone down for feeling this way. Some people haven’t dealt with great losses in their lives, and thus, don’t have first hand experience of grief. I certainly didn’t have a significant connection to grief other than looking from the outside in, until my father died.

I hope that when faced with other peoples grief I can offer some sort of comfort or support, even if it’s just being there to listen when they are really in the rough of it. I don’t want to hear only about the good days because you may be afraid of sharing the negative feelings with others. I want to be there for you and love all facets of you, whether they are joyful memories, or sorrowful cries.

 

On this day

On this day last year, my sister, her boyfriend, my mom and my dad, came to visit us for three weeks. At the time we didn’t know just how sick my dad was. We thought the sickness he was experiencing was a reoccurring chest infection that the doctors had been telling him he had for over a year, treating it with antibiotics and a nebulizer. They almost didn’t make the trip at this time, they were going to come in March… But that would have been too late.

They spent three weeks with us, we did a lot of mundane things, we hung around the house, but we also did some exploring, seeing Yosemite, Old Town Clovis and Sac, Avila Beach and San Francisco before they went home. 

I’m so grateful that they made the trip, that dad had the opportunity to see the kids and that we had time together as a family before everything shattered just 18 days after his diagnosis. I try so hard not to go to that dark place when I think of him. I try not to dwell on those last days, but to savor the laughs, the joy and the sweetest memories.

I’m glad that Calvin remembers him, that he says often that he misses his papa, and shows Mia photos of him. He’s three and death is a big concept for such a little person. 

Family is the most important thing to me. My little unit of four, my parents, my siblings… These are the people who make me, me. 

A Quote

One of my all time favorite books is Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. There is a quote in it that has been resounding with me since my dad passed away. 

It makes me think that no matter how much I write about loss, it’s not going to change anything, it may help me release the stresses I feel but as a reader, you may not feel what I feel. Perhaps you are dealing with your own loss and there may be similarities in our thoughts, or the way we are each dealing and reacting to it, could be completely different. 

At the temple there is a poem called “Loss” carved into the stone. It has three words, but the poet has scratched them out. You cannot read loss, only feel it.

I Saw You Today

I saw a little bit of you today, in Calvin. He was concentrating on working out a puzzle, and the tip of his tongue appeared at the corner of his mouth. It’s something small, and kind of silly, but it was a little bit of you. I remember you doing the same when faced with a task that required your complete concentration. I looked at Calvin today, and where I see so much of Curtis and I in him, today I saw you. 

I’m Not Okay

I’m not okay, and that’s okay. I wrote a post this morning about a dream/nightmare I had that I’m going to keep in my drafts. I’m going to continue to write down my thoughts and feelings in relation to my dads passing, but I’m going to keep them private. It’s not that I don’t want to share my emotions, but rather that im still processing them, and that can be overwhelming for anyone reading/listening to them.

I cry a lot. I get angry. And that’s a hard thing for someone to process who isn’t going through it too. I know my family are dealing with it in their own ways as well and I hope that I can be a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on for them despite the distance between us. 

So for now, if you ask, I’m not okay. And that’s just how it’s going to be for a little while.