I’ve been paddling along, enjoying the scenery, taking in all that is new and different. Or I should say, I had been. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, came a wave. It has not been a wave I can’t ride, but it’s taken some steadying, some muscle. It’s a new wave of grieving. The wave must have a long way to carry me, because I’ve been on it for days and days and I cannot see the shore. Others can sense it – I’ve been quieter and more withdrawn, as though I’m off in the distance.
One thing I know for certain about grief: there is no one way to experience it. Oh, wait, there are two things I know for certain. The other is that there is no wrong way to experience it. What I am experiencing now is just one more step in the long process. At first I tried to fight it, but that didn’t last long because I’ve learned over the last 8 months that it’s better to just let emotions come and embrace them. Doing anything else leaves you feeling lost. Facing the emotions is uncomfortable, for sure. This new grief has brought with it feelings of loss, longing, and love. It’s also brought a lot of tears, the kind that burn as they run down your cheeks. The kind you cannot wipe away fast enough, so you just let them flow and fall wherever they may. The kind you can still feel when you wake up, dried and salty on your skin, and you know you cried while you slept. There is, very often right now, a silence so deafening in my life that I can hardly bear it. A voice and a laugh are missing and I have to listen very closely in my mind to recall their exact sound. I want to hear the old sound, the sound of a healthy Brian who was living life as big as he possibly could. Sometimes I can hear that voice. But what comes more easily, though still quietly, is the voice that became a whisper and was slurred because of a combination of medication and cancer. I miss even hearing that voice and knowing that my life was still my life, not this uncertain (though, admittedly, often intriguing) new thing.
I don’t cry in front of people over this and I share very few words about it. The reason for that is not that I’m attempting to steel myself and appear stronger than I am. The reality is that the new grief feels so private and intimate. I can’t share the fullness of it; I don’t want to. I don’t know how long this new wave of grief will last. Will it be a few weeks, several months, or many years? I don’t know yet where it is taking me either. Far away or very nearby? I’ll continue to steady myself and put my muscle into it and watch for a new shoreline to appear. And I’ll ride the new wave with a mixture of deep sadness and expectant joy.
New Waves = Joy