I ran this course nearly six months ago, on the winter solstice. Looking back on the intervening days is like looking down the mountain trail, marveling at the difference in viewpoint. But the experience of this day’s hike is such a stark contrast to my last journey to this overlook.
In December, the sun was my friend. I welcomed its ascent, as it brought warmth and hope to my day. Now I race against it, knowing that it poses a threat. The luxurious feel of unrestricted time is gone, both in the immediate and in the ultimate sense. To walk as I did then, thinking of my children and of the future, having hope that my actions may save my family, isn’t possible now. I knew then that my life was not the most important thing, that my children would go forth and make the world an amazing place and that I could rest in the knowledge that my love for them would be carried on. Only from this vantage point can I see how privileged I was that day, despite the fact that on that day, I felt I was at a low point. Not without hope – possibly a turnaround point – but a low point nonetheless.
Now they live within me, and I see threats to me as threats to them. Their image on my skin, their memory in my heart that guides my actions – the heat of the day and the treacherous terrain are hazards not just to me, but to those whose legacy I carry.
Gravity seems to have a new dimension to it, as though what I experienced in December was merely a flat picture of that force, and now I am walking through the landscape itself. I am weighed down both physically and psychologically. My determination to continue up the trail has no joy in it. It is therapy, and the only thing I dread more than the therapy is the disappointment in myself that would come with failure to soldier on.
I remember the joy of anticipation, the thought that I would get to share this place with them today. I was once convinced I was a selfish person, but how can that be when every experience is evaluated for its potential to bring joy to others on a return trip? Even the joy of solo exploration is primarily in discovering treasures that can be shared with my children. I have to re-learn how to enjoy exploration for its own sake.
It is a beautiful day, but without the spark I felt before. Like a masterpiece, coated in soot.
Grief is a motherfucker.
Grief is something one should never have to factor into daily life. If you are one of the unlucky, you know this burden. My grief is different than Brads grief and if you hold grief, yours will be different, too. Yes, I’m aware grief has stages; I teach stages of grief to the public.
All I want to say now is, that grief is a mess. Grief is smiling at the park and laughing with friends and crying the entire way home. Grief is forcing yourself to pretend everything is normal, just to get through the goddamn day.
Grief is putting your pain aside to comfort those who share in your loss, only to pick it up again and carry a heavier load than before. Grief is experiencing true and wonderful joy, then having the sobering recall that people are missing who should be sharing in that joy.
Grief is too embarrassing to share.
Grief is what pisses all over your parade. Grief is tiring; it’s putting a shitload of energy into something that used to take no energy at all. Grief is playing with hot wheels in the spare room and smelling clothes and torturing yourself with what could have been.
Grief is the darkness cast over someones face after a long, normal day that has a giant oozing cold sore hanging from his lip. Nobody says anything about it but it’s so obvious it’s there…just fucking up the beautiful face of life its camped out on.
Grief is infuriating, lonely, complicated messy and simple.
Mostly, grief is beautiful.
And humbling, and real.
Grief is love expressed in its purest and most authentic form.
It’s raw, unequivocal love in the absence of happiness.
Hi grief. You’re a motherfucker.
I am creating monuments to my children. Some in stone, some in a more enduring medium.
If by my actions I affect the course of another’s life, then my life extends into their cone of influence. I may not see the waves hit the shore, but it was my stone thrown into the water that created them.
Be with them. I want to create opportunities for you to be with them. To connect and to share.
I learned from a friend that children do not receive the lessons that you prepare. Rather, they see you, who you are, what you do, and how you feel. You cannot give a child self-worth while feeling worthless in your own right. You cannot teach them to care for and value themselves while abusing your own body. You cannot inspire them to read while watching television every night.
I hope to again one day have children who will see me smile, who will watch me change the world and want to be like dad. Such deeds would be my greatest monuments.
That’s the answer to the question that I’ve been asking myself and the universe since I stopped wailing on the morning of March 4th. The question is, “What now?” I believe the answer is, “Just begin.”
But begin what? Begin writing, for one thing. Let the thoughts flow. Examine them. You can edit them later.
Begin your new life. This doesn’t mean abandoning your children. They are a part of you. Your new life includes them. But your old life is gone, and you can either sit here at the scene of the crash waiting for a ride that will never come, or you can get up and start walking.
No one can carry you. You have to move under your own power. They love you and they hurt for you, but they cannot deliver you from this place. Only you can do that.
But I’m hurt! My legs don’t work like they used to! I’m so tired, I just want to sit here and remember how good things used to be. But as long as I sit here, I’ll be faced with the wreckage, and I can’t close my eyes tightly enough to really remember without also facing the fact that I’m deceiving myself, hiding in my memories.
So move. Love. Begin.
Hi Brad. I hope you see this. This is your very first blog post. I hope you change it otherwise, it will stay like this.
I’m pissed. I’m just fucking pissed off. I’m pissed off because there is no peace of mind, no comfort or calm to the tidal wave of this reality. The kids are not in heaven. They aren’t looking down from above. They’re gone. They ceased to be on this earth. Are they alive? Yes, within each of us. Whatever the fuck that even means.
Are they in a better place? Fuck. NO. The best place for them to have been would have been here…with us…will thoughts and prayers help? NO. This isn’t part of Gods plan.
I’m sad. I’m just fucking sad. I’m sad because I see you broken. You are completely and utterly destroyed. And you’re trying so hard NOT to be destroyed because you’re scared of not being strong…of not being able to make it through and yes, that it’s all too much.
Yes, my love, it is too much. I tell sick employees to stay home one full day instead of trying to “suffer” through getting better. I watch you show up every day, your light a little less bright, trying to get through to getting better. Fuck that noise. All it does is prolong the healing process. You are inconsolable. Nobody (including me) can say words, do things or give things…that will make any of this easier.
You will never get to hold them again.
You will never get to smell their scent again.
You will never get to hear them laugh again.
You will never get to hear them complain again.
You will never get to help them when they struggle or talk to them about their day.
You will never get to work on their homework again.
You will never be able to take them to Great Wolf Lodge again.
You will never be able to work through mending your relationship with Ben again.
You get none of it, sir.
It’s all too much. It’s all fucking gone.
Let your heart fall apart; let go of the pieces, it’s already shattered. You’re putting energy into keeping all the broken pieces together. Let it go. It will never be the same and it will never be okay.
That’s okay. You have to move forward.
I’m envious. I too am fucking envious for those who have experienced less trauma and tragedy than you. I’m jealous AND angry to those who relate with their story of loss…and Ben, Sam and Maddy weren’t my kids.
I’m furious. I’m just fucking furious that I can do NOTHING to protect, comfort or heal you. I have no ability to shield you from this storm. So, instead, I will walk along side you. I will walk with you so long as you will have me and then…even when you are so angry and want to shove the world away…I will push you forward. I will hold you. I will love you and I will keep a safe space for you so you can fall apart.
This is the way its supposed to happen.
I love you for better or for worse.
Keeping this link here: Blogs on Grief