My sweet man lost his mother last week, and in the worst way possible. 2000 miles away, he had to make the call to take her off life support. Because death doesn’t just slap you; when it gets the chance, it goes for the sucker punch.
It’s strange to watch someone go through something you’ve gone through. I keep remembering the Grief Bubble I walked in after my dad passed, as if I was insulated from reality. The world was there and I could hear it, but as if through glass or water. I remember how odd it was that life kept going when I was certain part of the universe had just disappeared. I remember how unfathomable it was to my mind that he could suddenly not be “here”, as if space itself could just disappear. That’s what it’s like to lose someone who brought you into existence. Unfathomable. I remember all that, and I wonder if Justin is in that same bubble.
Justin grieves differently than I did. Where I was comfortable checking in with myself, honoring my needs, asking for help, or allowing grief to take me, he’s more comfortable doing the same for others. Because his first job has always been to make sure others are happy, and I know how dangerous that is for him now. So, my role is different than his was and my job has been to become his external gauge. Seventeen times a day, as he’s making phone calls and carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders and trying to deny offers for support, I’m there asking him what he’s needing, how he’s feeling, and who he needs to lean on. I’m liaison for the really tough phone calls at the end of the day when he has nothing left. I’m caregiver, reminding him to take deeper breaths and lathering him with essential oils for the waves he’s riding. I’m advocate to help him remember that his grief is as important as anyone else’s. I’m facilitator to let others know what he needs when he can’t do so himself.
Through it all, as I watch Life necessarily pause for him, I watch it continue on for me. It feels odd to continue to work, in the same way he did when my dad passed and I was treading in sorrow. There is even a guilt that arises for me. I postponed or cancelled or asked for help for anything that needed doing but couldn’t give me the opportunity to interrupt to be available for him. But businesses still have to run, and we have several of them. And it’s weird and slightly uncomfortable to be walking between these two worlds, as necessary or as needed as it is.
Life is a really strange beast, isn’t it?
But Death is even stranger. It brings things into sharper focus. It uproots you from your comfort zone, spins you around 100 miles an hour, and throws us back down, dizzy and breathless and worn out, and feeling a little cracked open. Then it seems to disappear for awhile, giving you a bit of reprieve, allowing you to forget for a few hours as you watch a movie or run an errand. Until the force of your forgetfulness slams against you again, with an added layer of shame, because “how could we be laughing right now“.
I don’t understand grief. I have no answers.
But somehow that’s always felt like enough.
It’s enough to just mourn, to just sink in. It’s enough to just be present for someone without a damn thing to say, because what could be said anyway? It’s enough to just show up on someone’s doorstep, with a bag of frozen dinners and some cleaning supplies, because you know if you told them you were there if they needed anything, they wouldn’t remember what they needed in order to ask you.
Shit, I think that’s what death has always tried to teach me.
Just show up.
Show up at their bedside, even if your tongue swells too much to say goodbye. Show up at their doorstep, even if you’re not sure they like frozen lasagna. Show up for yourself, even if it’s easier to ignore it. Show up with a hug, even if you’re not sure how. Show up with a text message, even if you’d rather you weren’t so far away. Show up with a plane ticket, even if it’s awkward to stand amongst strangers.
Show up for Life, because hopefully you won’t get too many reminders like this of how necessary it is you keep on living.
We are blessed to have had so many people we love show up in these ways for us. It’s through their presence that we have learned to do the same for ourselves and others. So thank you for that, for your presence and your outpouring of love. We probably won’t ever get the chance to thank you individually, but I hope you know that every thought, every prayer, every shockwave of strength and magic, every text message, and every phone call was received, wrapped around us, and breathed in.
Our hearts are with you, Kim. You were loved and held more than you know. ♥