Friday, May 16, 2014

On Dying

So I swore I would stop writing about depressing things because it's more fun to be funny, but when you're writing your own life story, it's not as easy to declare that life will only be fun and funny. As lovely as that would be, life just kind of does what it wants.

Also, the kids just aren't that funny lately. That's their fault.

My life is going well. More than well, actually, more like shout-it-from-the-rooftops amazing. My biggest problems right now include having too many friends and too many jobs that I love. Is there other shit I should be worrying about? Probably, but I'm not. I'm mostly good. Almost every single day is a good one.

Grief has been a strange and surprising thing for me, though. It's a lonely and private thing. Even though I went through the experience of losing my dad with others, their experience is their own and they're alone in it, too.

I am 100% perfectly fine 98% of the time, but that other just swoops in out of nowhere and knocks the wind out of me. I have tried to sanitize my life of anything that may trigger this--I even threw away the bag I brought to hospice and most of the stuff in it. My favorite comfy pants have been hanging in the closet untouched since then, I hate the sight of them even though I miss wearing them. I re-arranged all of my playlists so no songs would surprise me. I don't like food I ate then and I dislike using the travel coffee mug I got then. I stopped using the brand of lip balm I used then. I don't want to think about "then."

But my brain did not get that message. Stupid brain. My brain apparently likes to think about it and it is a trying task to keep it busy and otherwise occupied.

A week or two ago, This American Life featured a show about hospice but I didn't know that when I hit play. As I came to realize the subject matter, I found myself frozen halfway between my kitchen and living room, standing there listening. Eventually I paced back and forth a little, caught between wanting to turn it off immediately and desperate to hear this other person's experience, curious to see if it was like mine, if they were like me. Needing to know that they are like me.

By the time they got to the part about keeping the patient's mouth moist with a sponge on a stick (a harmless little tool that now haunts me, despite its incredible usefulness at the time), I retreated to my bed and continued listening, barely breathing, feeling frozen again. It was a beautiful episode, by the way, truthfully told and informative and moving, even probably to normal people.

At the end, she played her mom and step-dad's song, Randy Travis' "Forever and Ever Amen" and then I cried. A LOT. I remember going to that concert and hearing that song with my dad. I cried more than I did when he died in March. I cried and cried and cried. And cried.

And sometimes, like then, I feel like I cry more over the getting there than the being gone. The being gone is sad in a deep, achy, surreal kind of way. The going was sad in a traumatic, sharp, really real way. And I know that, all in all, it was peaceful and beautiful and that I'm lucky to have been there. I feel like I gained so much spiritually and emotionally and as a human being in that room...but I would gnaw off my own arm if it meant we could turn back time and go back to before that happened and I could be the slightly more shallow version of me again. The one-armed slightly more shallow version of me who has a dad without cancer.

I miss not feeling this way and not having these memories and feelings and doubts and regrets. I know it is what it is, that this is life. I know it went as well as something this shitty could but I just don't like it.

How's that for profound? Dying: I just don't like it.

Probably a pretty universal experience.

Every once in a while, something sets me off on the path of thinking about it and it's hard to get other things done. Then it's hard to explain to people who need other things done, "But my dad died! Two and a half months ago, but still! I am super busy trying not to think about it because it sucked!" It's not a great excuse this far out. I myself am surprised it's still an issue and I know how bad it sucked.

I don't have a strong conclusion or purpose here. Most of me wants to stick this in the graveyard of unfinished posts. Telling the world that I still think of it is not the best way to not think about it, is it?

But that's what's up with me. I'm happy and busy and have almost everything I want in life except for these wonderful and horrible memories of "then."


Lisa said...

I wish it could be different. Sometimes putting it out there helps to release it. Keep on doing that if it helps, even just for a moment.

BHB Nails said...

I'm sort of new to your blog, but sadly not new to grief. I just want to give you a big hug and tell you how brave you are for sharing this post. Grief sucks. People you love dying really sucks. Life can be so shitty sometimes. Hang in there.

Court Berger said...

It will be 12 years since my Dad passed, he wasnt, well let's just say there were things in my childhood that I will make absolutely sure don't happen in my daughter's childhood, regardless I loved him and it still hits me from time to time that's he gone. It still hurts, I have moments like this where it hurts. I'm sorry for your loss.

Court Berger said...

It will be 12 years since my Dad passed, he wasnt, well let's just say there were things in my childhood that I will make absolutely sure don't happen in my daughter's childhood, regardless I loved him and it still hits me from time to time that's he gone. It still hurts, I have moments like this where it hurts. I'm sorry for your loss.

Anonymous said...

There is no time limit to grief and two and a half months are nothing. I hope you don't feel like you need to justify why you're still hurting. Keep writing about it if it helps, I'm sure your readers love you enough to embrace your funny along with your sad. Hugs.

Nova said...

My little brother died almost a year ago now and just this morning I woke up thinking about him, out of nowhere.

Since he's died I can't watch the show Adventure Time. I can't watch teenagers play hockey. I can't see any movie or TV show that shows a person in a coma or being taken off life support. I can't watch a TV show or movie where someone has a seizure. I can't go into a hospital or hear the beeping of those automatic intravenous injector things without having a panic attack. I can't hear anybody's stories about their loved one dying (it's ok reading it though, I think it's the tone of their voice that gets me). I can't answer the question "how many brothers and sisters do you have?" and I feel really bad for the asker when I start crying because they didn't know. There's a million things that will just knock me on my ass out of nowhere.

It's weird. But you're right, it's also very private.

kristin said...

My dad passed 9 months ago and I completely understand what you are saying. Life moves on for everyone and that is the case with me like 98% of the time. But that other 2%? i want to just close the door to reality and wallow. I don't want others to know that i am wallowing, but I want to shout from the roof "keep it down over there, I am wallowing can't you see?). Death just sucks huh?