It was unexpected. It caught me by surprise. I believe it even caught my husband by surprise. This thing called grief can be a funny thing. Perhaps it lies below the surface, waiting to be released at a time when it's supposed to. Maybe this thing called grief knows you better than you know yourself.
We were watching the news and a segment came up about a program for children who lost a parent or loved one whilst serving their country, fighing a war in a foreign country. These were young children and I felt for them, understanding the pain of having lost a parent. The segment was about a camp or retreat or some sort of get-together for these children. They needed to talk it out and they also needed to heal. This was something good, I thought. And I wondered what sort of adults they would grow up to be. And I remembered that I lost my father when I was seventeen. I wasn't very young at the time but neither was I that old. I turned to my husband and started to tell him about losing my father at that age and the emotional baggage that I carried with me even to this day. And I felt broken inside all over again and I started to sob convulsively and I couldn't stop. I cried as I wondered what it would really be like for those children who had lost their parent or even both parents. Would they be all right for a while then realise what they had lost when they were older? Would they then fall apart too? Would they feel lonely and heartbroken when they least expected it?
Death is final. There is no holding on because there is nothing to hold on to except memories. And if there had been some pain as well, perhaps one held on to that too and carried it with them into their future.
I realised I had my own baggage to deal with. Not only did I lose my father when I was seventeen but I also felt estranged from him during my teens. There was a distance between us, physically, emotionally, and with good reason. To feel estranged and then to lose him to a heart attack. And I knew there was no turning back once he was gone from us. And yet, I have looked back so often as an adult for the pain hasn't completely subsided. And I wonder if it ever will. I know that I still grief for my father. Even when I try to look forward, to forge ahead and all that, I know that something, somehow, will act as a trigger, and I will weep for what I lost. And what did I lose? My father ... my innocence ... my father ... our relationship ... a loving father involved with his daughter's future, just the way they show it in the movies ... my father loving my mother ... my father ... So I still grieve. So ... oh well.
And I grieve for a child that I will never have. I grieve for what might have been, or could have been. But they're all fantasies, aren't they? Perhaps they were never meant to be real. I read about, or hear about, other women's pregnancies or newborns. I recognise the stab within as I realise that envy has been aroused in me. It is not good to be envious, I know. But I am envious for a moment ... or two ... or three ... or more ... and I wonder why them and not me. And then I think, why not them? I certainly did not actively or vigorously pursue the path of a mother. I wished, I hoped, I dreamed. The act of love was infrequent, almost non-existent. So I had my issues which interfered with other aspects of my life. I am older now. And I had a hysterectomy. Which is almost a funny thing as I also have a post-surgery pooch, a belly that protrudes more now than it ever did before. To me, it is an eyesore but it is also a reality, something to deal with. And there are times when I touch, and feel it, wondering if this is how pregnant women touch their swollen bellies. And then I would wonder why I was going through this now that it was impossible to be withchild. There was nothing inside, after all, not even the womb which would have carried a child within. A little human being, a beautiful child that other women carry in their wombs. Why them and not me, is the question I obviously still ask in the silence of my heart. It is futile to ask that question, and of course I know it, but I can still be so thick-headed and unreasonable. It is not that reality hasn't sunk in. I suppose that I am still not able to accept. And I know that I must accept.
And I ask God, What have I done? To have come so far in this marriage. To have stayed when I had my doubts and fantasies of another life elsewhere. Would it have been different elsewhere? I didn't want to play the long-playing records of misery anymore that used to occupy my time. Wasted energy. Wasted time. It is better now. Perhaps I am also grieving for the time wasted.
And I know that there are times when I would rather wallow in self-pity. The easiest thing in the world for me is to be an old stick in the mud. And I know that I should not. As I am older now, aren't I also supposed to be wiser? I want to be. But more than that, I want to be a woman of faith. It is still a bit of a struggle. Or it feels like it.
Learning to let go is something that I obviously still struggle with as well. There is this thing called grief. And like it or not, good or bad, fortunately or unfortunately, I have to admit that I am still grieving. And I also have to admit that it can come upon me without warning, that I can be overwhelmed all over again. And now that I think about it, maybe with each incident when the tears fall again and the heart breaks again, I am also learning to let go ... bit by bit. Little by little. Maybe that's how it is.
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