The other day I thought I saw you. When I was standing at the bus stop. I looked in disbelief rubbing my eyes expecting you to disappear as fast as this certain mirage had appeared. You didn’t, you still stood there standing just 100 steps from me. How could you be so close?
I missed my bus because I couldn’t believe I was looking at you and I didn’t want to risk losing you again. I was frozen just wondering what I should do. I had thought about this scenario before and I always thought I had an answer. I was convinced I would stand up, run to hug that last hug I didn’t know I had to give. However, my body and mind spilt and I listened to logic and sat.
Finally I did build up the courage to stand. I walked towards you knowing it’s not real but praying for anything else. I could see myself one minute in the future holding a conversation with you. You and I catching up on what has happened since you left and me nervous this mirage will end before I want.
It was only 100 steps but the walk was long, I was half refusing to look away and half refusing to look to hard until I get ten steps away. It is not the ghost of my dad just a strange man. In the immediate walk back to the bus stop I don’t think how stupid I was for having the thought. I get upset it wasn’t him because I so desperately wanted that to be real. I talked to him on my walk back. I said ‘I miss you! I wish that was you!” I wait for the bus still looking, I can’t stand how upset I am it wasn’t real.
There are no rules for grief, memories help you remember and being open to your pain is healthy. If you want to survive grief you can’t carry it with you as a separate part of you embarrassed to feel what you do and ignore what doesn’t make sense. Grief is a part of your identity, your daily life, and in the world of grief moments rarely make sense or seem fair.
I survived my parents passing by understanding this one certainty: if I felt a feeling then it was valid and needed to be understood. Letting go isn’t easy but either is standing still. I choose to move forward and grieve my way because I know if the roles were reversed and my parents had to bury me I wouldn’t want to think of them sitting around depressed, sad, and not moving. I have navigated my way through the burning stars, foggy mornings and blurred lines of life after death. It wasn’t easy to understand life doesn’t stop moving even if I do. I had to learn how to bend to life, make it work for me but most importantly learn ‘how to duck ‘as my father told me time and again.
I also learned not all choices are right or wrong. Good or bad. Sometimes there are only sucky and suckier choices. The night before my mom passed her doctors encouraged my family and I to lower her oxygen intake to help her pass quicker instead of hanging on to life. On my moms last night she and I sat alone in the hospital room, a nurse came in and shuffled my mom around to make sure she wasn’t getting bedsores. The movement caused my mom to start wheezing because her lungs were filled with liquid. The nurse naturally starts to turn my moms oxygen up to stop her from wheezing. I had to pull this nurse outside and tell her how she can’t raise the oxygen level because I feared it would reverse what was trying to be done. That wasn’t a good or bad choice but just sucked! Plain and simple.
I learned from my experience with grief that life isn’t black and white, that these situations you thought you would never have to respond to are the ones that shape you quicker. You can’t plan your response and expect it to go the way you wish. Surviving means managing expectations as well balancing what is wanted versus what is already had. I never thought i would spend my time daydreaming about what growing old with my parents would be like. It hurts to know the life I once had planned for us now rests in bus stop daydreams and a daily series of ‘imagine if’s.’
I do know what I can handle and I don’t waste time worrying about moments I can’t control.