Reflections on Loss & Grief
Updated: Apr 22, 2020
This was written now close to a year ago...as many of you may know, one of my twin daughters died Oct 11, 2018. Something that I still struggle to believe, let alone accept. I share this here for no other purpose than offer a glimpse into a moment in time that has split our lives into Before and now we are Living in the AfterLife. Today marks five months. The loss is still so surreal and yet, hyper-real at the same time. Like it happened a million years ago and just this minute. There are moments when the pain drops me to my knees. Most times, it’s just a a feeling of being encased in a lead filled blanket, like the ones they lay on you at the dentists to shield you from the x-ray’s radiation. A heavy weight that hangs on your shoulders as you go about your life. Dulled and slow witted. Forgetful and preoccupied with nothing you can place your finger on because the reality has been pushed away…until it comes roaring like a freight train into your brain.
We all suffer loss. Parents, friends, relatives, spouses and children. Yet for such a universal experience, we are alone in our grief. Each relationship is unique, complex and layered, a tapestry woven over time that presents a picture as a whole that defies the intricacy of the threads. Like fingerprints. We all have them, but yours are not mine. They are alike in name only. Your loss is not mine. It cannot be. Just as yours is not mine. And although we may be able to relate to some degree, it is impossible to know the depth of another’s pain. We lost the same person but it is impossible for me to comprehend what the loss of her twin sister is for Caiti. Just as she can only, in her most terrified moments as a parent and only then in the abstract, understand mine. The same for all the others in her life. This is not say there is no empathy, no sympathy, no caring that a loved one suffers. We do share in the hurt because we are family with ties beyond blood and our love for her and each other connects us.
And does bring comfort.
The idea that grief is a linear - each day will be incrementally a bit better until time will heal this wound. But as my dear friend, the brilliant writer and teacher, Beth Ann Fennelly told me, this is total bullshit.
At any moment, on any day for no reason that I can discern, I will relive that morning, in vivid, detail. I will smell the coffee in the cup sitting on the table in front of me.
8:05am .I will hear her come down the stairs and tell me she’s not feeling well. I will tell her to sit on the couch and I’ll make her some herbal tea.
I will look at the clock.
9:10 am. I will see her standing at the door, assuring me that there’s no need for me to drive her, that Merrick’s still sleeping and she will be right back.
9:20 am. I will text her to tell her that Merrick is up and he’s got a wet cough, that she should stop on her way back to pickup some cough medicine. There was no reply.
She is already gone.
I struggle to recall did I hug her? Did I say, “OK, Bean, be careful. I love you.” Did I say it? Didn’t I always say it when we parted? I can’t remember. And it kills me. Along with the crushing guilt, for so many things my intellect and shrink and friends tell me are not my fault, and beyond my control.
That there was nothing I could do.
But the heart knows no logic. I was her father. I am responsible. There is nothing anyone can say that will change that fact not dissuade me from my guilt. I will come to terms with it in my own way and own time.
I am in deep gratitude for the incredible outpouring of kind words and support from my family, friends and the Facebook community we have received. It has been a true comfort. As the rest of the world continues to spin and moves on, our lives have been irrevocably changed forever. And while there remains no words anyone can say to ease the pain, as this fades in the memory for others, the most wonderful, true comfort has been the random, out-of-the-blue message that says “just thinking about you today.”
Five words that mean the world. A lesson I will take forward and remember when others are confronted by life’s unkindness.
All we have is this moment, my friends. This moment, right now. Be in it. Be present with your loved ones. Give them your full attention and focus. Listen. And do your best to hear what they are really saying. There is nothing more important and nothing that cannot wait.
And most important of all, hug them while you can.
Miss you, My Bean, more than words can ever possibly express....I carry you with me always.