Archive | December, 2018

On grief

17 Dec

Friday night we went to dinner with our neighbors. We haven’t seen them in forever, and they are truly the greatest combination of grandparents, parents, and friends that one could ask for.  We love them for a million reasons, and all week we were looking forward to dinner and catching up.


It was a beautiful, warm night–almost 50. I decided to bust out my pink paisley coat–the one that I loved from the minute I saw it on a clearance rack at Target, that Eric took one look at and said, “Why are you wearing a rug?”  But I loved it, and I kept it, and Friday night I decided I’d wear it.  I put it on, walked out the door, went to dinner, had a lovely time eating yummy food and catching up, put it back on when dinner was over, put my hands in the pockets, and…found Lisa’s prayer card and the Red is the Rose lyrics from her wake.  And wanted to just go to bed and stay there until this wasn’t a thing anymore. Except it won’t ever stop being a thing. But bed still sounded like a good place to go.


I can’t believe it’s been a little over a month since Lisa passed away. I simultaneously can’t believe it’s only been a month. It feels like an eternity. Most days I feel like I’ve aged 20+ years.  And yet I don’t feel old enough to be dealing with all of this. I just hang in this weird dichotomy of too-young and old-grizzled-jaded.  I don’t feel equipped to handle it all the “right” way.  Even though I also know there’s no “right” way to handle any of it.  My mantra the past month and a half has been “this is so fucked up.” There aren’t any better words for any of it. And that refrain just fits pretty much every situation–it’s just fucked up.


There have been so many hard days and harder nights.  The horrible moments have piled up–from all the memories of That Night (which was god-awful from the minute we were woken up in the middle of the night, to the crazy drive over to their house, to the EMTs bringing her down the stairs and out to the ambulance, to the ride following the ambulance, to the minute we walked out of the hospital the next morning knowing she was never coming back–and every horrible, heart-wrenching moment in between), to the memories of the immediate aftermath (planning wakes and funerals and breaking the news to people and all the tears and sleepless nights), to the late nights on couches and around tables, talking, crying and talking some more–trying to make sense of something that is, at its core, incomprehensible. I’ve been trying for weeks to make it work in my head.  But I can’t.


I think the two hardest parts for me now can be divided into two categories: the past and the future.


I struggle with the past–the not knowing–because I didn’t know so much about her past and who she was before I met her and who she was and what she meant to other people. I keep thinking of all of the things I didn’t know about her–the clothes we cleared out that I never saw her wear (we found some amazing high heels and boots! OMG my friend wore heels?!?!), the pictures of friends from long ago who I never met, even the wedding pictures–because even though we were so close, we didn’t know each other even 5 years ago.  Everyone has a past, and we can never know everything about someone. But I’m so sad that I didn’t ask her more questions, spend more time with her, know her sooner, and most importantly tell her explicitly how much she meant to me more often.  Finding some high heels and adorable dresses, I wondered why we didn’t ever dress up…then bitch about how much our feet hurt, and then put on sweatpants and cook Tasty recipes and watch The Bachelor.  I’m pretty sure that’s how dressing up with Lisa would have been, at least that’s how I imagine it, since that will never be a thing now. Standing with her dad at her wake (God that’s an effed up sentence starter), watching all the pictures of her as a kid, as he narrated the Lisa he knew…I was so sad that I didn’t know that girl…I like to think we’d have been friends as kids–we certainly did a lot of the same things growing up.


And so thinking about the past, and the fact that I didn’t “know” her (because I didn’t know all of her stories, which I realize is ridiculous because no one knows all of someone’s stories), really makes me sad.  But then I think of the future–all the things we won’t get to do. All of the future “stuff” that will never be. And I am even more sad.  Because I feel like we just started to get closer, and now all of that is gone.  We had just started sharing “secrets” and talking about the more real stuff–and it was all cut short.  All of the things we’d discussed doing…all gone.  The vacations the four of us (Eric, Valone, Lisa and I) had talked about taking. The races we would have run/supported each other through. The parties and events (Eric and I were so excited that our best friends would get to be at our anniversary party, since we missed each others’ weddings before we knew each other…the thought of an anniversary party without her just seems really pointless now.) The recipes she won’t make and then pass along to me. The cooking questions I will most definitely have that she won’t be there to answer. The last-minute texts asking us to go check out a burger place in Syracuse. The Bachelor Fantasy League (that she found…another total shocker…haha).  The hikes and camping trips and campfires and swims on hot summer days. And all the conversations we will never have.  Any future we had as friends (and also as couples) is gone.  It’s like I got robbed of something, and I struggle with the enormity of the loss I feel, especially when I consider that other people knew her in different ways, for longer, and are struggling with losses that I know are far greater than my own.  I have known grief before, but the enormity of this grief is just so different and so much greater than anything else that I don’t know what to do with it all.


And so I’ve thought the past month and a half about the past and the future. I thought that maybe I was being a baby…that my grief should be smaller…that maybe I was blowing things out of proportion.  I worked hard to try to convince myself that maybe we weren’t actually that close.  And then we found a card we’d sent them in her nightstand.  And I broke.  Because it mattered.  It does matter. She mattered to us. And she mattered to me.


The reality is that we spent multiple nights a week together.  We texted literally every day in a group text. She and I texted most days on the side. Often those texts were about our worries with our husbands, and we’d end up at one house or the other to be there through a tough time.  One of my favorite memories of her was when we went snowshoeing up at Payne Beach–just the two of us. Eric had been going through another surgery recovery and we were stressed and arguing over stupidity and she texted to ask if I wanted to go snowshoe. Valone would hang at the house with Eric.  And so we ended up snowshoeing up to the lake.  We talked some, but also did a fair amount of hiking in silence.  It was comfortable silence though. The trails were so beautiful that day–all snow covered and crisp and we hit the beach and both were like, “wow this is so cool.” I tried to find pictures of that day, but I couldn’t find any. Both of us would get so angry at having our pictures taken–we hated how we looked in pictures.  Now I regret not having some pictures, even if they were “bad” ones, even if they were “just for me” pictures that no one else saw.


They say grief isn’t linear–and it’s so true.  The first week was awful.  I didn’t know it was possible to cry as much as I did.  It was worse than even Eric’s dad passing away, and that was truly awful.  But then things seemed to get better–it was not better, to be clear.  But I stopped crying so much and could talk about what had happened without crying.  The past 2 weeks, I think I am back to crying when I think of or talk about it.  I have gone from sad to angry to waiting for her to walk in to shocked to sad again.  This morning I got lost on a trail and sat on a fallen tree trunk and sobbed. I sobbed for what was, I sobbed for what I didn’t know, I sobbed for what will never be, I sobbed for what is to come.  Because the reality is that nothing makes sense, nothing is ok, and nothing is the way it should be.


It’s been over a month since she died. But it feels like an eternity.  And I guess this is what grief is.