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Grief is a funny thing. It hits you like waves, rising & falling. Sometimes overtaking you. And sometimes just out of your reach. At first it seems like you will never make it back to shore after a wave hits and that it will always consume you. And then suddenly you find yourself walking in the sand, warm from the sun, & laughing again. As if you didn’t just survive a near drowning. And then you feel guilty for enjoying the sun & laughing. And so you miss him all over again and suddenly you find yourself back in the ocean with a wave pulling you back under.
A year ago, I literally watched as Scott took his last breath. I watched as my doctor brother used my son’s stethoscope to confirm what we already knew. We are an affectionate family, but we hugged each other tighter than we ever had that day. It was like a dream that I was watching unfold from the outside. I watched myself answer questions from the Hospice nurse. I watched as we all got tattoos. I watched as we planned Scott’s celebration. I watched myself tell my oldest son that his G-Daddy was gone. I watched as well comforted each other. I watched as my husband, my brother, my sister-in-law, and I tried to take care of all the things that have to be done when someone dies. I never knew there was so much to be done. There should be a person who takes care of all the death things for you. Because you can’t seem to think too clearly and you just want to eat Mexican food while curled up beside the ones you love. But you’re stuck doing all of the death things. And then suddenly you look up and all of you’re friends have gone. And all of the food and cards stop arriving. And you realize you haven’t had a proper cry over it all. But you’re afraid if you start, you’ll never be able to stop. So you keep the waves at bay a little bit longer. And you cry a little here and a little there. And everyone goes on with life. And you’re just not quite sure how.
And one day, you look up & realize a year has passed. And all of your well-meaning friends who love you dearly look at you, waiting for you to fall apart. And you wonder why you’re expected to miss him more today than any other day. And why it would be more normal for you to fall apart today than any other day. Because you think all the days hurt. And all the days are different than 366 days ago. And all the days will never be quite the same ever again.
Grief is funny this way. I am more likely to fall apart on a random Saturday when I realize I can’t call him to talk to him about the Clemson game. Or on a Tuesday when I realize he will miss Jud’s first school Christmas program. I am more likely to fall a part on the days between the anniversaries. The seemingly ordinary days.
About a month after he died, I received the greatest gift from my sister-in-law. She sent me a pack of styrofoam cups that she decorated with Scripture for the random, in-between days. Somehow she knew those would be hardest, I guess. I’ve never told her this, but those cups saved me from letting the waves pull me completely under on those seemingly ordinary days when I just couldn’t stave them off anymore. On the days when I wept silently while bathing my boys or watching the Voice. People think you need them the most in the immediate days after death. But you’re too busy with all of the death things to really comprehend your loss right then. In reality, it’s the seemingly ordinary Saturdays and Tuesdays that seem to break your heart all over again.