I guess there are seven stages of grief. It appears as though I’m lurking around stage one– shock, denial, and disbelief.
I’m slowly trickling through disbelief– I can feel it. I can feel my body resisting it. I can feel my body shuddering through fear– my abdomen is stiff, my hands are shaky, my eyes are swelling. I am physically aching for some balance between this hollowness and heaviness.
My mind and heart are trying very hard to slowly let this seep in. I feel like I’m being sedated and it’s hitting different parts of me in a gradual drizzle– when you only get one drop every few steps, and the person next to you looks and says, “really? I haven’t felt it yet,” so nobody’s really sure if it’s raining but let’s be serious… it’s raining.
My head knows it’s raining but my heart is still aching so desperately for a glimpse of sunlight. I feel nothing but this tense stinging in my arms because I’m trying to avoid letting one half of me down.
So many things I’m used to doing continue to completely undo themselves. My Dad always spent time in the kitchen, especially over the last months of his life because that’s where everybody would always be going in and out of and he’d always be a part of it. Naturally, I got used to this so aside from when I was sitting there, I’d turn around and talk to my Dad. I’ve turned around so many times to nobody there.
I’m sitting at the kitchen table now– across from the seat he sat in every night for dinner. That same seat where, on October 14th, my Dad sat when he came home from the hospital after deciding hospice care was the best option for him. My Mom and I sat with him as the social worker came over to discuss how we were feeling, and ask about funeral homes and cemeteries for when the time comes– just so it’s not something we’d have to worry about later. My Dad talked more confidently than my Mom and I were capable of, that’s for sure. The social worker asked how we’re all feeling, and my Dad said he almost felt relieved because he knew he felt something in his body changing. He felt a little more at peace knowing he was able to be present and enjoy his time rather than fighting something he knew his body wasn’t fighting anymore.
Half of me was torn apart and heartbroken. I cried everywhere, all of the time. I couldn’t think about anything other than how this wasn’t fair. The other half of me was happy to spend time with my Dad. He was still there in his entirety. I was foolish to mourn him while he was alive. Plus, everyone says, “miracles happen! Be hopeful!” And I wanted to just say, no… Stop it.
I think it’s just default for humans to completely deny everything they don’t want to face so when things do happen, half of ourselves are so unprepared for them to happen that we’re just confused.
I’d like to say it’s okay to accept something as heartbreaking as death. I’m not even close to doing that yet, but I want it to be okay when I get there. Life and death do go hand in hand. It was almost easier to cry when he was alive– I knew no matter how many times I sobbed uncontrollably, I was safe because he was still there. It was painful, but a little less painful because I was crying about something that wasn’t real yet. Now it’s real, and I’m frozen. I know when I spill over, it’s going to hurt more than before. It’s going to ache deeper. The rain won’t trickle, it will pour.
I know I need to run towards the storm. I need to ditch my umbrella and raincoat and just run into the thunder, otherwise I’m going to be waiting for a long time to find a balance in something that doesn’t entirely exist.
As I usually do, I turn to Kahlil Gibran for the wisest of words when I need to remember there’s a greater understanding of the world around me so here’s a quote from “On Death”:
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
I hope you're truly dancing.