Driving home down long, dark, quiet roads last night my husband and I got to talking about my loved ones that have passed over the past two years. It got me to thinking about mourning and the way it hits you out of the blue now and again for no apparent reason, with no apparent trigger. I got to thinking about the types of mourning we all experience at one time or another.
I was reminded of an old friend that I haven’t seen in years. This friend is someone that I met and fell in like with in the 5th grade. We were inseparable from the 2nd day of school (when we decided that we weren’t meant to hate each other~which still brings a smile to my face) until we graduated high school and thereafter. Then life took us in different directions. There was no reason why~ shit just happens. We fell apart from one another for a piece of time. One day she just popped back up and life felt normal and whole again. We did tea and breakfast and kids’ birthdays and family get-togethers. Then *poof* she was gone again. She took a job in another state (only 2 hours away, mind you) and moved away without so much as a true goodbye. I can’t even tell you how many years ago this was. It feels like forever. She wasn’t there when my dad died or my brother overdosed. She wasn’t there when my kids graduated from high school. She wasn’t there when we changed our life path completely and moved to a new place and took new jobs. She missed out on all of the things that would normally make us weep and jump for joy in solidarity. She missed out on our friendship. She wasn’t the only one that missed out. I missed out on her stumbles and successes. Her scary times and her excitement. I missed out on a life that was, in many ways, my own. I miss her dearly and I mourn the loss of our friendship.
Eight years ago my father suffered a massive stroke. After his stroke he was a different man, a different person. He was no longer the man the I worked with and for. He was no longer the man that attended every one of my kids’ games and competitions as they were growing through their early childhood days. He was no longer the man who would make me angry when he was arrogant and distant and make me laugh when he would get lost on his way to an assignment and would discuss the daily news and politics with me in the mornings before we went to work. I felt like he was just the shell of the father and man I once knew. I missed him dearly and I mourned the loss of “him”.
Eight years ago my brother and I spoke our final, parting words. Well, I did. I was harsh and hurtful and broke both of our hearts in a five minute tirade before I walked away, in tears, to start a life in which he didn’t exist. I missed him over the years that followed and I mourned the loss of a relationship that was toxic, yet full of love and hope.
Over the past two years I lost both my brother and my father as they both passed on from this life.
My brother died not knowing that I still loved him and wasn’t full of the hate and anger that I poured forth to him on our last day together. My brother was not the same person that I remember growing up. He was more bitter and angry and lost and alone than he had ever been and he probably hated me. And yet I still feel the loss of him to my core. I think of him and what he could have been and what he turned out to be. I’m still angry, but time has turned that anger away from his deeds to his death. I am angry that he was what he had become and not what he could have been. I was angry that he left words unsaid and that he didn’t know my children and my husband and see how I was turning in to the person we always talked about me being. I am still angry that the brother that existed outside of my world ceased to exist in this world at all. I tell myself daily that the anger will subside in time as it is all a part of mourning.
My dad died two years ago. He died alone, in his nursing home. He died in a place he hated and that made him feel lonely and surely made him feel alone. He died without me there where he could see my face and feel my love while taking his last breath. I was bitter after his stroke. I was angry and a babbling mass of tears on any given day about the stresses of living a life that centered around caring for him and placing his needs above my own (and my family’s) for what felt like a lifetime. It took me some time after he died to truly fall in to what I considered to be mourning. I realize now that even the indifference and need to be busy and efficient after his death was all a part of the process. I think I’ve moved through the stages of grief and have settled on just missing him.
I don’t know if I will ever truly stop mourning any of these losses. Some days I cry when I hear a song my brother used to blare on the radio or pass by a restaurant my dad loved (he just loved food~ full stop). Some days I laugh with my children about the things my dad said and did after his stroke. Some days I’m still angry with my brother for his choices and his inability to function as a “normal” adult and person that was loved so deeply. And some days I just… exist. No tears. No laughter. No fear. And it’s in those days that I stop and ask myself “is this all there is”? And then, once again, I mourn.