Thus Far: Grief Nearing the Four-Month Mark

I feel exhausted. The past two months, these family holidays without Dad, and the quality and amount of time I’ve spent processing my new life without him that these months have necessitated has wiped me out. Two weekends ago C & I were cleaning out our little storage space in our building’s basement, and I came upon a series of boxes that contained my childhood and teenage years. As I opened one after another I saw remenants of the past. My throat began to close and I became breathless as the choice of whether to keep or toss confronted me. C took the boxes and put them back, saying we could figure it out another time, but it feels as if I did not put them back. It feels as if I took them out and spread their contents all over our apartment and now have to be careful not to step on the clay mask I made in elementary school when I get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.

I think about cancer and I think about death, but in such a way that it feels as if I can’t grasp either. Both words mean very little to me even as they feel like quite a lot. I bring up Dad’s death at least once a week, which I assume makes people uncomfortable. It’s not that I want people to feel unease or sympathy, it’s that the awkwardness feels genuine and therefore right. He is dead. He has been dead for four months and I still feel happy that he’s not in pain, blessed to have had time with him, angry that I am left here to make of life what there is to make of it, grateful that I can remember him as someone I admire, and sad that we ran out of chances to make new memories. But I also feel ready for whatever comes next.

This process of grief has, perhaps, felt like the stupidest thing I’ve done in life thus far. It has been whole in its illogicality, but when I deconstruct all the bits and pieces it almost starts to make sense. As someone who is used to the watery, fluttering grip of anxiety, the sudden feeling of oversaturation combined with overexposure, I am used to searching for meaning as a talisman against slipping underground into the aquifer of depression. But grief has been and is not a different beast. Sometimes, I suppose, things just need to be their own.

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