Thursday, January 20, 2011

The things time doesn't heal

It's been a year today since my friend's mom died. The family has been in my thoughts all day. As has Patti, as you can imagine. I thought about her a lot this past weekend, as her son and daughter-in-law now live in the house she used to have. I miss her.

It's incredible to me that it's been a year. It's still a shame, you know? And it got me thinking about how these losses never get easy. It gets better over time, I really think it does, but it never goes away. There's always a gap there, a line that has ended, and no matter how hard you try, there's no filling that void. No amount of office work, of alcohol, food, drugs, sex, video games, any of the distractions we use can make us whole again, regardless of the mass quantities we might apply. Eventually, it gets integrated, it becomes part of who you are. There's a resignation and a familiarity about it. With work, with therapy, with time, it becomes less of a burden and more of a companion. You move on, but you carry it with you.

I think that's the best outcome we can hope for.

Grief is the risk you take by loving someone. It's not a new idea. And the fact is, you can't know one without the other. If you never grieve the people who leave you, it's because you don't invest yourself in them. And if you don't invest yourself, you never know the incredible power and goodness that comes from love and intimacy. In some ways, the grief replaces the person you lose, it stands next to you instead. But what it brings is not purely the pain of the loss; it anchors you to the memories. It remembers when you're afraid you won't. It brings to you a moment of wit, or insight, or comfort that the person might have offered. It hurts, but in the pain it reminds you how strong your love was.

I was driving home from picking up Maggie tonight, and my mom texted me that she loved me - a usual bedtime ritual. And for a small moment it made me sad, thinking that someday I'm going to miss that so much. And I started thinking about my grandmother - a kind, giving woman who helped raise me, and who died after a short illness when I was in junior high. And I started wondering what she would've done with a phone that could text. Would she have used it? Would she have had fun with it? I delved briefly into the fantasy that, wouldn't it be great if she could text me from wherever she is now? Oh, how I would love the chance to talk to her again. And I realized suddenly that I was crying pretty hard. It's been, what, twenty years? (Holy shit, is that right??! I'm pretty sure she died in August of 1991...holy cow....) And I started thinking about the memories I held so dear. I started thinking about her sister, who died not long ago, whom I also adored. And I cried harder. I loved them both so much.

It never lets you go.

And I think that's a good thing. I don't ever want to let go of people that mean so much to me.

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