Yesterday, my sister’s daughter Charlotte drove to my house. Yes drove! She’s old enough now and has her learner permit. I’m so proud of her. I couldn’t wait to watch her drive out of my driveway…and of course not back into my garage door! And as Charlotte slowly edged back and forth with the car, giggling, my brother in law Tone rolling his eyes from the passenger seat, she finally got it.
She straightened up the car and drove slowly out of my driveway. And in one of those strange reflective moments, with her bright yellow L plate stuck to the back window, I couldn’t help but notice the other bright yellow sticker on the car bumper under her L plate.
It said “Touched Be The Road Toll.”
I stood on our front steps madly waving and blowing kisses to Charlotte who gave me a big thumbs up. I know she couldn’t see the tears in my eyes. But it was a poignant reminder of life.
One, how it goes on, that people do survive tragedy and thrive and two, that these little moments after grief aren’t little moments. They have the ability to trigger such instant responses. At a subconscious level! The sun was shining, I was filled with a sense of such pride and happiness but in a second of seeing that sticker and Charlotte’s L plate I was reminded just how fragile and unfair life can be sometimes. Unfair that it wasn’t my sister standing with me, so proud.
So how do we ready ourselves for those triggers after grief?
How do we ignore them, shut them out, block them, avoid them?
Well I’ve learned you can’t! It’s all part of the process. A process they call healing…or moving forward. But sometimes it’s like one step forward, two steps back!
But with every shot of pain and recognition comes more resilience. More strength….to cope when these sparks of grief strike. I’m not scared of them now….well not as much as I was.
And I wonder how other people cope with these little set backs or obstacles? Whether they’re part and parcel of grief or whether I’m stuck, or I have too much time to contemplate? Or all this means is that the love I had for those gone will always prompt sadness sometimes? Is it odd or normal to still feel this way?
I’m glad its August as it’s the later part of the year where it seems I get a breather from all the reminders of those I’ve lost. May was Mother’s Day. June was Savannah’s birthday and July my baby has her birthday. Which seems always overshadowed by her sisters. And I hate that!
And all these special days prompt tears and wondering and questioning why? Year after year. Its like you have to deal with the difficult stuff for three days. The day before, the day of and the flatness of the day after….the recovery. But we do recover. We regroup. We mend. And thats the true miracle of the human condition. Just keep swimming as Dory said!
You’d think I’d be better at this by now. But it seems grief is like an eclipse. When it’s around, everything else seems to be shadowed. Even the good stuff! The triggers are just that, like someone has a gun pointed. The best way to deal with them is to let the pain sit with you, or pour out of you. Whatever works! But I do know that burying the pain can create addiction. And with addiction, unless you deal with whatever is causing the pain, you will never fix the addiction if you have one.
And the other night I watched a TV show called ‘Offspring.’ A scene in it showed one of the main characters celebrating her birthday. The table was full of family, laughing. She got up to make a speech, how it was the first birthday without her dad. And in the scene she melts into a mess of tears. And out of the blue, lying on my couch under a fluffy throw rug, I started sobbing. And I couldn’t stop. It was like someone turned a tap on.
I miss my dad.
I m i s s m y d a d!
That one little scene in a silly show triggered grief tears and set me off!
But I wiped my wet face with the fluffy throw rug, took a deep breath and let the pain sit with me. And you know what….after a few minutes, the sadness passed.
However I still got up, grabbed a crystal glass off the shelf, and poured myself a red. i know I’m a work in progress….and that’s ok too! X