Death and his close cousin, Grief rarely intruded in my life, except for example, while reading a sad story. Also, I do cry easily at movies, even an animated one like Lion King, when a character that I care about, dies. At those times, Grief, like a shawl, drapes over my shoulders, enveloping me in her sorrow but is easily discarded when closing the book or walking out of the movie theater. I am now aware that this was only a glimpse of her, a shadow of her true self.
Since Josh's death, on that fateful day of March 18, 2009, Grief, in all of her overwhelming fury, domination, and expansivenss; with no mercy, respite, or break -the "real deal" has come to stay. She invades my heart, soul and mind and when full blown, fills every cell and crevice within my body. Nothing is off limits or sacred. She is with me everywhere, all of the time; no matter what I do or where I am at, she is there. She has now become a part of me. I cannot escape. There is no place to hide, she finds me everywhere.
Strange. What gives her such strength? Such tenacity? Such power? It is tied directly to the love for my boy, who is now gone. Because I love him so much, I grieve so much. And I will love Josh until the day I die, so it stands to reason that I will also grieve until the day I die.
I feel her everywhere. In a picture of Josh, she is there. When I see a kid who has the same kind of build as him, she is there. When I think of places we have been or things we have done, she is there. For example, we are now on vacation in Vermont, a place where he has been. Sometimes, Josh and I would play golf with Tim, in a "best ball" format. With the strokes given (1 if less than 250 yards, 2 if more), it would be quite competitive. I will never forget his smile when a well struck 9-iron would sail 150+ yards, the distance of my driver - sad to say.
During a recent round of golf, on a particular hole, the memory of playing with Josh was so vivid, I could almost "see" him. I remember it being a perfect match of our good/bad shots. We used my drive which landed left of the fairway. His second shot put us in front of the green on the right. We used my pitch up to the green and he made the putt. Anytime we beat Tim on a hole, we would quietly give each other a fist pump. I am happy for this distinct memory, but Grief finds me as well.
I want her to go, but not really for she is proof of my love for Josh. And so, in a weird way, I embrace her, revel in her strength, marvel at how powerful she is. I want her to stay for I fear the time when I don’t cry for him. Would that mean that my love has lessened? Or that I am forgetting him? Or is it possible that as time goes on, she gets weaker, so other emotions can come back? For early on, she is so big, so huge that all other feelings are crowded out. In that way, she is quite selfish and jealous. But maybe over time, she will shrink, so there is room for others - like joy, happiness, peace, contentment, and hope.
I am glad that I don’t feel her 24/7. I know she is there but she lets me get on with other aspects of my life: family, job, working out, reading, etc. She does not control every waking moment, of which, I am thankful. I don’t think I could handle it - way too much. I can hear her voice:
"You have to feel me from time to time. I can’t be pushed back or down for a long period of time. I need to come up and breathe, explode, be felt. Otherwise, it will be worse for you. I know it’s hard, but you have to let me come up. You have to feel me - not all the time, but some of the time. I am not an ogre. I am actually here because of you. For if you didn’t love Josh so much, I would not have a reason to be with you. So do not be afraid. Do not hate me. Do not despise me. We are both here together because and only because of your love for Josh.”
So there it is. Love, death and grief - intertwined. I can’t change what has happened and because of that, she is here to stay.