Grief is a funny thing. Most days, I’m able to smile, hold a conversation, run errands, have a meal with friends, and so on. Any random person I encounter on the street would never know that six weeks ago I lost the most precious thing in my life. Perhaps they’d think: “That girl could use a nap and some mascara,” but surely they would never expect to hear the reality of our situation.
The reality being: we have only scratched the surface of our grief. And while I’m able to smile, hold a conversation, run errands, and have a meal, I want you to know that it doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about you every second. It doesn’t make me any less sad.
I went out for the first time last weekend to celebrate a close friend’s bachelorette party. Truthfully, I had a fabulous time and it was probably something I really needed. I hung out with amazing friends I haven’t seen in weeks, got dressed up, wore makeup, had a few cocktails, laughed genuinely, and danced. It was my first taste of “normal” in what seemed like an eternity. I was so thankful for the opportunity.
Then, I woke up the next morning and sobbed inconsolably in the shower. The rest of the weekend and majority of this week, I’ve spent in a strange fog of sadness. A relapse, of sorts, back to the way I felt days after leaving the hospital. Only this time, instead of not being able to stay awake, it feels like sleep will never come.
Recent insomnia and sadness are a product of two things: 1) my tremendous guilt for having fun when you’re not here and 2) an unrealistic expectation that I was ready to be “myself” again. I don’t even know who “myself” is anymore. After spending nine months envisioning my life headed in one direction, that vision was abruptly and unfairly ripped out from underneath me. I am trapped somewhere in the middle of what was and what could have been.
Today I don’t feel like being strong. Today, I just feel like being sad. I’m making my way out of denial and while that reality is truly painful, there’s no future in denial.
That’s what makes grief funny. You expect someone who is grieving to look the part: swollen eyes, sunken cheeks, pale skin, and pajamas. In reality, grief looks a lot like me and your Dad. We LOOK “normal” and we feel anything but.
As I sat at brunch with your Daddy on Sunday, looking around at a room full of strangers, I thought about how none of them had any idea how sad I am. The cliche Plato quote that I’ve heard a million times kept popping into my head: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” If grief really looks normal, it makes his plea for compassion all the more necessary.
And yet again, Ruby Mae, you’ve given me a gift.
I love you,