Thursday, February 2, 2012
Good grief. Who came up with that term? There is nothing good about grief. And no one tells you that the older you get, the more of it you have. While there are great things about getting older like being wiser and more confident. It comes at a price. And that price is grief.
The 40's are good years. You've had the fun that the 20's brings, the career of your 30's, maybe you've added kids, maybe not. But by the time you're here, you have a pretty good idea what you want out of life. Although you probably can't afford it yet. Whatever it is. By the time you get to your 40's, if you're lucky, you can finally purchase that dream vacation you've always wanted to take or that midlife crisis car.
But, you're also doing the great balancing act between your career, home, kids and everything else you have to juggle. And you're desperately trying to keep all the plates spinning on the end of the stick without dropping one. These are productive years. But these are also some of the most stressful in your life. And no one tells you that. So, now you have the conundrum of being able to afford what you want, but now the question is. Should you? Or should you quit your career and become a glassblower that you always wanted to be? Or maybe you should squirrel it away and put it in your retirement account. Or in the kids college fund. And as you sit down succumbing to the vertigo you got from all these decisions you look around.
Then you realize.
Your best friend is barely making ends meet after getting a divorce. Her divorce happened a year after her brother committed suicide. Another friend lost his job, this was right after he discovered his son had a heroin addiction. Another friend is slowly losing a parent to Alzheimer's, memory by memory. Then a friend tells you about another friend who's son was killed in a drunk driving accident. Grief is all around you. And there is no sign of it stopping.
The phone call came two weeks ago. Bad news always starts with a phone call. A good friend's dad is sick. Just three weeks before, she'd got another phone call informing her a good friend had died from cancer. The doctors are running tests on her dad, but it doesn't look good and everyone fears it's the c-word. And that it's already spread.
My phone call came 12 years ago. My mom was sick with cancer. I wanted and I needed to go home to take care of her. It was the hardest 2 months of my life, but I wouldn't change it for anything. I was 30. Next week will mark the day she passed. My griefaversary of sorts. They say time heals all wounds. But, that's bullshit. It doesn't.
Grief is a solitary lonely place. You can't bypass it or control it. Long after the casseroles, cards and friends excuses to pull you out into the world of the living stop, you remain with your grief.
But the thing about being in your 40's? While I'm old enough to know that there will always be wounds that won't heal. I also realize that while I was only given 30 years with my mom, I was given a lifetime of her love. Not only that, I've given myself something too. I've surrounded myself with people that I would gladly shoulder their grief for. Not that I can do that, but I can give them excuses to pull them out into the world of the living. And I know that they would do the same for me. Because they have.
So maybe there is something good about grief after all.