This whole grief thing is…like exploring a new part of the world.
Miss Chef is still in Alabama, figuring out her mother’s estate and putting into motion the plans for her dad’s and brother’s financial futures. I am still Home Alone, keeping our little household functioning at some minimal level, waiting anxiously for her to come back and assume the primary place in my life.
The flowers continue to bloom, but it’s still too cold to plant the garden.
We have ants I can’t get rid of.
I’ve had my fill of tuna casserole.
Work has been agonizingly slow and boring.
I don’t have the motivation to blog, or even read blogs much.
I’ve made it to the gym twice this week.
Rosie wants more walks.
One day a couple of weeks ago, I was moving laundry from the washer to the dryer. I pulled out a pair of footie-style socks I don’t remember having ever seen before. Light blue, similar to the background of this page, fluffy in an artificial-fiber kind of way. The kind of thing, I thought, you might be given in a hospital.
Were these, I wondered, Miss Chef’s mother’s socks? Had Miss Chef been wearing these?
The thought of her wearing her deceased mother’s socks saddened me—like a brick upside the head. Whoa. With our physical and mental separation, it’s easy for me to forget that we’re still in the middle of this loss. We haven’t really faced it head-on.
We are both in limbo.
One more week, and Miss Chef will be home. I will no longer be fully responsible for myself, the house, the dog and our social lives. Miss Chef will no longer be fully in charge of her family’s day-to-day functioning. We can turn back to our regular schedules, start making more definite plans for our immediate future.
But the truth is, the end of her stay there will be only the beginning of her grieving. Miss Chef has been purposely setting aside thoughts of her mother, and her mother’s absence, in order to focus on the tasks at hand. She is particularly good at compartmentalizing her emotions, and while that can sometimes be troublesome, it’s been very useful for her now.
We’ve talked a bit about the fact that she’s been putting off facing her emotions until she comes home. And I know that, just as I look forward to the joy and relief of having her here, I will have to continue being strong and patient for her as she begins that painful process.
The fact is, neither one of us really knows what to expect. Miss Chef has has never been through such a great loss, and neither have I. I don’t know when she’ll feel it hit home, or how. Neither one of us knows how she’ll react when she does. Will she need me, or will she prefer to shut herself away from me for awhile? Will she be unmoored, or continue to bury herself in work to keep her bearings? There’s no way of knowing, so we’ll both be going through this swamp for the first time, finding our way together.
I’m sure those of you who have lost a parent understand. For better or worse, they leave their fingerprints all over our souls. They model the clay of our personalities without even trying. And I’m sure in many ways it takes their absence to put into relief every nook and cranny of ourselves that we owe to their existence. There is no way to prepare for that.
I will need lots of patience.
We will both need lots of time.
Still, it’s just early spring here. We may have a long way to go, but the days are bound to get brighter.