12 May 2016
My birthday is coming up soon. It happens every year, yes, and it always reminds me of dinners out and Benihana, as that’s where we usually end up. Man what a life. It was amazing and hard all at the same time. The good, the bar, and the ugly, so to speak.
I have experienced recent loss, yet again, as a close family member died back in March. My favorite, she was. Reminded me of my grandmother, she did. The same grandmother whose death was a shock, even though expected. All those years with slowing losing her senses and abilities, but at the end the moment of clarity when she asked me about my son. The one she had not recognized in years and had not seen in several. It was my own fault. I could not bring myself to see her in that state. I wonder now, as I did then, if she wondered where I was, why I had not been by. Probably not, but on that final day, I know she knew who I was. That, in itself, made me wonder about the other times I had not been around. But, we cannot change the past, so I move on.
I was 20 when I experienced my first real loss. It wasn’t a loss of life, really, but more a loss of a way of life. A massive heart attack has a way of changing things in an instant. Basically dying and being revived will change one’s perspective I suppose. I really do wonder what that day would have been like if that had not happened. Just the day prior, we were looking at new cars and eating barbecue. Then bam. It hit, and our lives were never the same. Four months in ICU, and a heart transplant later, we went on about the business of living, albeit from a very different perspective. Gone were the sales trips around the state and nearby state. Gone was deer camp, duck hunting trips on cold frosty early mornings, gone was my innocence I suppose. All gone in an instant.
Fast forward about 8 years. Another loss. A friend. Car accident. Just three weeks after she and her husband were settling into their brand new home, making plans for their first child in ten or eleven months time, given the right circumstances, of course. I cried for days. Although we were what you’d call besties, she made a dramatic impact on my life in the short time I knew her. Made me believe that being a lawyer would be great fun. It is. I know that now, all these years later, but I certainly was unsure of myself then. She was one of the first people who believed in me and made me feel bigger than myself. I miss her to this day. 6-9-99 will be forever embedded in my brain as a result.
Four years later, after a move to a new city, great and tragic loss occurred. Him this time, the transplant recipient. We had such great times. My hero. My mentor. The one person who told me I could, I should, and made me believe it as well. I cannot describe that loss in words. Feelings are harsh realities when the person you look up to and call when you are falling is gone. Never to be totally replaced. Someone at the time told me that I had been strong for everyone else and had not taken my own time to grieve. Perhaps that is why I still do. Weekly. Sometimes daily. I would give every material possession, safe very few, for one hour with him. One. And I have a lot of stuff I really like. But not more than him.
Most recently, her. My favorite. Made him into the man I love most dearly. The man who, currently asleep in the recliner, has somewhat filled the void left by the transplant recipient, the retread, as he liked to be called. The original Leroy. The void will never be truly filled, but it fills up a little more each day. She was a bright candle in our lives. Loving unconditionally even when we didn’t deserve it. Liking people she didn’t care for, just because you might have brought them by. Never saying a bad word about anyone, even when she really didn’t like them, just not saying anything at all or making a good, Southern girl reference akin to “how nice,” which every good Southern girl knows exactly what the meaning is. Perhaps I haven’t taken time to grieve on this one yet, either, but we haven’t had our first real holiday as a group yet, either. And we love far enough away that driving by isn’t a typical option. All good things getting over that pesky grief anyway, or at least postponing it.
Gone now,but absolutely never forgotten these are. Seeing a photo of a dandy duck hunter in his regalia sent me on a crying, yet smiling, spell. Knowing that he lived a good life, had fun, and certainly pushed the boundaries of his upbringing to be something more than what he could have turned out to be. Inspiration to me, for sure. As they all were.
Grief, in its most basic element, is profound. Hard to nail down. Different for everyone. Genuinely human. Certainly not easy for anyone with a soul. A necessary evil. Some say embrace it. I say push it into the back of the closet until you have to deal with it. Keep those memories alive, and live peaceably with them. It is how those we lose remain alive to us all.