Thursday, April 8, 2010

Things I Know

Grief is a journey, and there is not really a roadmap.  My travels, as I've said before, are different than yours, and so it goes, but there are a few things that I think I could tell any individual to be prepared for.  There are some things I imagine we all will experience in common:

Some things will trigger a memory, and it may be a good memory or a bad one.  It may be when you least expect it, but you will think your day is chugging along and then - WHAM! - there it is.  You can try and avoid it, like my refusing to watch Star Wars or Lord of the Rings because those are things Kelsey loved as well and that we shared, but there really is no avoiding it, because the oddest things will pop up and smack you around.  As an example, as I was driving home tonight Layla came on the radio.  I love that song, always have.   For some reason, this time when I heard it I thought back to a time when Kelsey was just a baby and I was downtown with her for a well check-up.  I was driving the Chevy Chevette I had before I was even married to her father with its little six cylinder engine.  One could drive it and get some actual acceleration, or one could choose to use the air conditioning.  If you chose the latter, you could feel some moderately cold air vaguely blowing around your face.  I generally went for the acceleration and sweated my way through a few Texas summers.  But, with an infant, things were different.  I remember the day as being sunny and really hot.  As I loaded my infant daughter into the car seat, she was already limp and damp with sweat, so I struggled with whether to put her in the front seat so she could get some benefit from the air, or the back where she was safer, but likely - in my mind - to be exposed to heat stroke.  As I struggled with my young mother's fear and indecision, that song came on the radio.  I turned it up, I remember.  And I made the worse of the two decisions and strapped her in the front seat so I could have the air blow on her.  Faced with that decision today, I would choose differently, but then again, I would do almost everything differently.  And, as I listened to the song tonight, that's what went through my mind, and I was triggered to experience a sharpening of the pain that now sometimes is actually slightly dull.  I recalled all too vividly the love I had for her and the wanting to care well for her, but not really knowing how.  There are a million little examples like that.  There is just no avoiding them.  It's like dodging pollen in the air.  Of course, for me now there are two sets of memories that are likely to get pinged painfully.  This is an inevitable fact of the life as I now know it.  Will it always be that way?  I don't know, but I imagine it will be for a long while to come.

There are other things I would tell anyone new to the grieving process to expect.

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