Here's the thing about grief. It doesn't ever really go away. I've written about this before, so its not a new topic, yet every time those overwhelming and sometimes debilitating feelings of sadness come bubbling up to the surface, I'm never quite prepared for them. While the sadness might not be as acute or dramatic as those first few days and weeks after the horrible event, it hangs around - a lingering, chronic, dull, ache - that gets stronger at the most inopportune times. Like holidays. So when they show up - I deal with them at the time - then hope and pray that they'll go away - never to return again.
Unfortunately, that's not the way grief works. I guess it's a true testament of how much we love those who have gone before us - that we miss them terribly and selfishly want them here with us. I guess it shows how important those people are - that we constantly keep them in our thoughts.
Here's my struggle: while my head realizes that living means dying - that it's the proverbial 'circle of life' for death to come after life - and that its our job to keep living despite losing loved ones, my heart wonders how in the world it is okay to do so in the absence of said loved one.
The problem is that I feel guilty. I feel guilty for enjoying life. I feel guilty for laughter, for fun, for fellowship. I'm doing my best to enjoy this special holiday season - while that nagging voice in the back of my head keeps saying 'but your Dad can't.' I'm doing my best to remember details of him from my own childhood - to in some small way bring him alive for his grandchildren who never knew him, all the while holding back tears - because what I really want to do is curl up and cry and stamp my feet like my two-year old son over the complete and utter unfairness of it all.
I'll say it. So there's no question. I miss my Daddy. With every fiber of my being. I search for him in the faces of my children, in their silly smiles and belly laughs. Sometimes I get a glimpse of him. Which is awesome. And makes me miss him even more.
And here's the other problem.
I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel about my mom. I haven't touched this subject much on the blog - because I haven't been ready to. Frankly, I'm not ready to now, either - so I'll sum it up by saying that I'm completely unsure about what to do with that situation. She's not dead - she is very much alive - but is very much limited in what she can do, and for reasons that are impossibly complicated and I can't begin to explain, I'm not a part of her life anymore. The stroke took her memory, circumstances took what was left. And the truth? I'm not sure how much she remembers - or how much she really knows about me - other than what is fed to her by those around her or what she wants to remember to try to please.
So grief isn't really the right emotion.
I can't think of a word that describes that emotion. I can tell you that at times it makes me feel like an elephant is sitting on my chest - and I struggle to breathe. I can tell you that at times it feels like I'm missing an arm or a leg or some other natural extension of myself - because that is what my mom has always been. My best friend. My closest confidant. The ying to my yang. I can tell you that at times I feel like just moving my face in the motion of a smile is more than I can manage.
Which then leads to MORE guilt, if that is even possible, when I look at my kids who can't begin to fathom what in the world has possessed their mommy. Who deserve every happy holly jolly Christmas memory I can create for them, and don't need to have their holidays tainted by a mom who is choked up with tears every time a familiar song or smell or tradition is relived.
I'll say it again. I miss my mom. I never imagined walking the path of motherhood without her by my side. This isn't the life I anticipated. Daily I feel like I'm failing - and want nothing more than to talk to her - to take in her counsel - to just hear her freaking voice.
Call me a sappy sentimental fool....
So grief, or whatever you want to call it, is a hard thing to deal with. Exacerbated I'm sure by the holidays - with songs crooning of 'home', 'family', and 'loved ones.'
I'm tired of grief.