June 14th was the 24th anniversary of my father’s death. I have not had a father for twice as long as I had one. Every year the anniversary gets easier, but this year it caught me off guard. Grief swallowed me as I remembered that my mom was gone now too. That I am an orphan. A thirty-four year old orphan, but the realization is still hard to grasp. Both of the people responsible for bringing me into this world are gone. My world became so small when I realized this. I am not alone; my brother became an orphan the day my mom died too. As are many others, much younger than we were, but still there is something sobering about being alone in the world.
Yes, I have others in my life. I am not alone in the sense of the meaning of the word, but my creators are gone. I missed my mom more than I had before on June 14th. I felt like a small child lost in a shopping mall, searching for safety. My heart hurt as I thought about all that was stolen from me. For the majority of my life I have been without a father, and now, for the rest of my life I am without both parents.
Realizing how young my dad was; 37 and how young my mom was; 62, I worry about my longevity. Will I die young too? Are my days numbered? So much loss and uncertainties consume my mind now. Grief is unescapable. I tried hard to not think about my loss. I tried to be happy that she has her freedom now. I tried to put my mind other places when the thoughts sneak in, but there is no hiding. Either I deal with it now or I let it consume me for the rest of my life. When I lost my gram my grief consumed me; it killed who I used to be for many years. Seven years to be exact. Ten days after the seventh anniversary I lost my mom. Grief is cruel.
Grief does not care that you already gave it all that you had. Grief does not care that you have a life to live. Grief does not care that you have kids to take care of. Grief does not care that you have a job to do. Grief just does not care. It is as ugly as you allow it to be. Grief does not have a time line. It does not have an expiration date, and it comes knocking even when you don’t feel like visiting.
I have spent most of my life grieving. Twenty-four out of thirty-four years I have had the shadow of grief follow my every move. Happy memories that I could not share with the people I love. Special events that I had an empty space in my heart and empty chairs in the audience. Silent tears escape from my soul as I watch others have the people they love while I am alone. In those moments I forget that others hurt too; that others have lost too. In those moments I think of my pain, of the agony that has taken toll on my life. And in those moments I think about how unfair life is. I get angry and sad and depression sets in. In those moments I give grief full control over my life. In those moments I forget that I have power too.
It is those moments that I have let win over the last few days. I’m getting to be an expert at this grieving thing, and yet it can still swallow me. I am not letting it win this time. I am fighting back like walking against the current. It is hard, but I am aware. I know what it is like this time. I know that I must give in to these moments to grieve fully and completely. I know that grieving is healthy. I also know that grieving is hard. I know I will get through this.
It just takes time.