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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Vigil


I would like to lodge a complaint about this whole "adulting" business, about which I was not fully informed as a hopeful, naive child. I think I always had an inkling it would involve a great deal of drudgery in the form of laundry, bill paying, job working, taxi driving, meal cooking and birth giving. I was involved in several of these activities from a young age (not the latter). 

What I didn't realize, apparently, is that adulting is actually drudgery plus pretty much continual grief, in one form or another. It's doing all of this stuff that keeps you busy most hours of the day while also playing host to this room in the corner of your mind that is holding constant vigil over the people you've lost, people you'll lose soon or relatively soon, and people who you fool yourself into thinking you have control over when it comes to their safety and mortality. Sometimes, there are enough candles in there to set off the smoke alarm, like when I try to fry things in my kitchen.

It's trudging along, and sometimes, it's even trudging along happily, while constantly anticipating the next time the sky will open up into a breathtaking, soul-sucking storm that will wreck your life for a while and leave a whole bunch of debris in its wake for you to ignore/work through/obsess over for the next handful of years. Or you know, for forever. Because I'm finding that mostly? The debris tends to arrange itself behind a leaky, crumbling wall between The Stuff I Do While Insisting I'm Not Thinking About the Stuff on the Other Side of the Wall and The Stuff on the Other Side of the Wall. It's always over there. It's just that for me, adulting means compartmentalizing. 

And so, here I sit, waiting for the skies to open up. Both Kurt and I have a grandparent in hospice care right now. We are trudging through, and we are holding vigil. We hold out hope for peace for these beloved, integral members of our families. We worry about our kids losing two great grandparents in a short span of time. We worry about our parents and aunts and uncles, who will lose parents. And somewhere in there, we think about our own grief and how these people have been in our lives always, performing their role as grandparents, that uncomplicated, pure love that seems to exist only when there's a generation gap. They are foundation. Maybe adulting is constantly rebuilding the foundation for the next generation. The storm comes in and screws it all up, and because we're people, we just put our heads down, sigh, and start applying mortar. 

Here's what really sucks, though. Everyone I know faces this kind of struggle, or worse, and yet, there are all these arbitrary rules about grief. How long you can grieve. How you should grieve. Whether or not you're grieving enough, or too little. It's ok to cry (just not in public, and not for more than a little while after your loss). It's not ok to do the whole daily-living-trudging-through thing when you're supposed to be at home doing nothing but grieving, yet somehow you're also supposed to keep meeting all your obligations to other people and organizations of people you belong to. Most of all, it's rarely ok to talk about grief. WTH, society?

Life is loss. 

And it sucks, but it's true, and it's weird bullshit that it's not ok to be honest about it. We could be helping each other through it, if it didn't feel so weird to acknowledge that it hurts. It's one of the few unifying facets of life that everyone from here to Timbuktu experiences, big and small, and continually. Divorce, death, miscarriage, illness, losing pets and friendships, homes... And I'm a true offender. I never know what to say, and usually say nothing, when it might not actually be so hard to utter three simple words: Are you ok? In fact, surely I can manage this more often, right? If you're as crappy as I am about this, can you help me by doing this, too? 

Because I truly want to know. Are you ok? Lay it on me, friends. 

2 comments:

Kathy Palmer said...

Sorry all of this is happening at once, Sarah. That sounds hard and stressful and sad. Grandparents are irreplaceable. Mine were a huge influence on me, too, and I only really appreciated that after I'd lost three of the four of them (teenage self-absorption isn't pretty.) I made the most of my remaining time with my Grandpa, though. He learned how to email at age 80 so we could communicate daily via AOL (he hated to talk on the phone). I will always treasure those emails, and be grateful for that time in my life. I miss him quite a bit.

Sarah Hunt said...

Thanks for sharing, Kathy. It really is remarkable how important grandparents can become. This will be my last remaining grandparent - not bad at age 41, really, but very sad nonetheless. I love the story about your grandpa. That is so cute, and I bet he loved emailing with you. :)

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