There are many words to describe the day. All those minute details that never stay put – the way sunlight crawls into the window and glints against the brown filaments of the curtain and the series of rooms that comes after that. But when you lose someone, the words collapse into thin air. There is, suddenly, nothing you can find to describe what needs to be.
At twenty past six last night, we lost a father.
Did it make a difference that we knew we were going to lose him one, two, four weeks prior? People say it does. It doesn’t. The only thing you leave out of the equation is the element of surprise. You cannot sugarcoat death. Grief stays the same. You breathe it, you think it, see it, feel it from the multitude of nerves in your body. It exists and subdues you – raw, recurring, ’round and ’round.
I have been sick since yesterday, but not sick enough to be dysfunctional. Yet even after having finished only a quarter of what I usually do in a day, I am extremely debilitated and devoid of exuberance and wit like a decrepit 80-year old.
Meanwhile, life runs its natural course. The baby cries and aches to be picked up. Hunger needs to be addressed and dirty dishes must be scrubbed clean. Sentences that you cannot properly construct need to be over with because work does not revolve around your loss. Neighbors smile and expect you to smile back. Your friendly neighborhood vendor tells you how much your kid has grown and expects that you don’t – even politely – decline a conversation.
There is a saying that there is always a silver lining after the storm. But there is also a saying that when something ends, something begins. It was the end of my father’s earthly suffering and the beginning of ours. And all these are necessary. They are prerequisites to choosing life and living – we could only hope – with better purpose, more kindness, and greater gratitude.
“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”
― Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and John Kessler