18 December 2015

The distance between my grief...and remembering

It's true. The grief does change over time. It ebbs and flows like a river, some years because the season before was a mild one, the river does not overflow, but other years, the river rages on and on spilling over the edges of the land because the snowfall in the mountains was so great that there is no way to contain it.

And why would a person ever want to contain their grief? Why do we try so hard to reign it in? What are we afraid of if people see our grief? I ask myself this question often because so much of my grief is private, so many of my tears are private. I cry a lot, but I most often cry alone. I think because I was raised to put on a happy face, hide your tears, cry in silence. I was an excellent silent crier by the time I was ten.

My own father died just before my sixth birthday, and I learned quite young that crying wasn't really okay. We needed to hide our sadness because we might make our mother sad, and our job was to try and make her happy. So I hid my tears.

I found that if I cried into my pillow while rocking, I could simultaneously comfort myself and keep my crying muffled. It helped sometimes to have two pillows, one on each side of my face so I could create a little well of air in which to breath.

And sometimes I found that hiding in the closet, covering my ears and rocking would make me feel better.

But no matter what I did to try and stop the crying, I couldn't. And so, over time, I found that if I cried hard enough and rocked faster, that eventually I would just fall asleep, sometimes curled up in a ball. The rocking would prevent me from thinking about anything at all; it would block the sound, block my thoughts and I could just rock over and over again while counting--1, 2, 3 and 1, 2, 3 and 1, 2, 3 until the counting in my head became a chant, a kind of mantra on which to focus.

The distance between my grief and remembering my father grew until I'm pretty sure one day, when I was 11 or 12, I could no longer remember ever having a father except for the feeling of not having a father and the emptiness that came with it. I couldn't conjure up an image of him in my mind; I couldn't remember a time when he was in my life, only the vast amount of time he wasn't.

And this is only a piece of what the emptiness feels like. It's only a piece of how grief evolves and changes. It's only a piece of the river that rages inside of me.