“That was the thing. You never got used to it, the idea of someone being gone. Just when you think it's reconciled, accepted, someone points it out to you, and it just hits you all over again, that shocking.” -Sarah Dessen
Today marks the third year since my grandfather passed away. I didn't think I'd cry today because the days leading up to it, I was fine, unlike the previous two years. I thought that meant I must finally be okay with it. I know I'll always miss him but I thought maybe I was finally to a point where I wouldn't cry over it anymore. I woke up this morning and I heard thunder and pouring rain. That seemed fitting and comforting because the sound of a storm always comforts me. I laid in bed and thought of thunderstorms that happened while at my grandparents house and how sometimes, they'd let us go out and play in the rain if it wasn't a dangerous storm. I smiled and got up to start my day. I felt the familiar dull ache I always feel in my chest when I think of him being gone but still, I didn't think I'd cry.
I hate to cry and I rarely do it. It's not that it makes me feel weak or silly or anything like that and I don't actively try to prevent it from happening. It just takes a lot to bring me to tears. I used to feel bad about that because I felt like something was wrong with me. I've moved passed that. If it happens, I let it happen. I just dislike feeling that vulnerable, that open, even if I'm by myself. I also never feel better after I cry. I know so many people that talk about how cathartic crying is but I don't feel that. I always feel worse and I'm not sure why.
So today when I heard a song that's about a man singing about his pain and grief over losing the man he loved and respected and trying to cope with that, I didn't try to stop the tears that spilled from my eyes and streamed down my face. I was happy I was in line at the bank drive-thru at the time and not back at the shop because crying in front of people is awkward. I didn't try to stop myself from crying again when I was putting my groceries in my car after work and I happened to look up and oddly see an older gentleman who looked a lot like my grandfather. As much as I hate crying and even though it doesn't really ever make me feel better, holding it in is much worse.
I think too many people get caught up in trying to move on and file away their sad feelings into a place where they can't bother them anymore. Maybe that works for them. That's all you can do, be honest with yourself and find what works for you and do it. Myself, I can't always focus on the good things and sometimes, I need to be sad about something. It's okay to get sad once in a while over losing someone you love, no matter how many years have passed. You can't let that grief and sadness consume you because it will act like a wildfire in dry brush, it was spread quickly and overwhelm you. It will swallow you whole and won't think twice about it. There's a balance and sometimes it's a very delicate line.
People always say that time will heal all wounds. That time passing is all that really helps you move on from losing someone you love. In part, that's true. It doesn't happen over night. It never happens as quickly as we like it to. It took me a year before I could change the phone contacts in my cell phone from "grandma and grandpa" to just "grandma." It took me even long to stop referring to it as "grandma and grandpa's" house when I'd say that's where I was going. He died June 9th (which unfortunately also happens to be one of my brother's birthdays) and Father's Day in 2011 happened 10 days later. That year, seeing all the "grandfather" cards out for Father's Day felt like a harsh kick to the gut and I ended up leaving Target a sobbing mess because it hurt to much to think about him being gone. A year later, it was a weird realization that I wouldn't need a Father's Day card for him because holy damn it had been a whole year already. I read some anyway and remember getting sad because I'd never need another card for him again. I'd never get another hug after he read whatever sweet but cheesy thing that card said. Sometimes, it's weird things that set you off. Time does make it easier because those things that felt gut wrenching the first few months on up to the first year didn't sting as sharply. You don't cry as easily. You still miss them but the mass that's made up of all the pain and grief is smaller, duller, not as bright, not as sharp.
It's good to focus on the happy things and the good memories you have of someone and I'm lucky to have a lot of good memories and things to laugh and smile about. Sharing stories and memories helps. It brings you closer to the other people who loved the one you loved. You bond in a way that you don't bond with anyone else because you're sharing thoughts and feelings that they truly understand. It's good to remember the positives but it doesn't fully take away the pain of losing them, doesn't help the ache you feel inside when you miss them and doesn't fix the piece of you that feels like it's gone now. I've come to realize that just because the wound of losing a loved one is healed doesn't mean it never hurts you anymore. You just get better at living with it.
“It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.” -Lemony Snicket