Today was my coworker’s daughter’s services, and I am only one of who did not attend. I spoke to him about it, about why it was virtually impossible for me to attend these things, and I know he understood. Having recently been inducted into a club that is not nearly exclusive enough (i.e., parents who have lost beloved children), he gets it and understands completely why this is so difficult for me. Had no one else been attending, I would have gone, M would have accompanied me, and we would have sat small and quiet in the back corner and zoomed out the door as soon as it was concluded. I feel there is nothing healthy, comforting, or uplifting I can offer him or his family in such a public forum.
Here in the office, with just one other new staffer present, I’m preoccupied with thoughts of my own daughter and her services and how impossible it is to find the right words. I recall people seeing me in public places afterwards, freezing like a deer in the headlights, and then turning and walking rapidly in the opposite direction. It happened more than once, and each time was hurtful in its own way. I remember being upset about it, yet somehow finding the strength to track down that first guilty party to ask her if she thought I had some contagious disease, that her children might be at risk by her speaking to me. The expression on her face as I walked right up to her, how stricken and pained she looked, it softened my heart and made me ask, very gently, if she were avoiding me for any particular reason. We were friendly, our children had known each other since second grade and we had worked together on PTA-related school things. She was so embarrassed, so flustered, and she blurted out that she just had no idea what to say to me, that she was just so very sorry and did not want to just say that to me again.
It was a learning experience for me, one of those lightbulb moments. I am a master avoider myself; I hate funerals and weddings almost equally, because of my brand of social anxiety. I told it was okay, that it just felt weird to be me now, and that this new normal came with a pretty steep learning curve. It was the first time I truly realized that death is so damn final and that opportunities for do-overs ceased to exist, a sobering realization.
I want few regrets in life, for things I might have said or done. I want to be someone worthy of earning genuine praise and admiration, someone capable of receiving correction or told of wrong doing. I might never travel further than the boundaries of this continent or become more formally educated and well-read than I am right now, but my quest is to be a considerate, thoughtful conversationalist and listener.
In reading posts and correspondence from friends near and far I frequently think that mine is a tiny life, with the boundaries and confinements that make my orbit seem so small in comparison to others with bigger, broader adventures. However, it is only as good or as bad as I value it when I fall prey to comparing to another’s opportunities and choices, and I am primarily content with my lot. I have a wonderful husband in M, terrific children in C and G, great and brilliant friends who inspire and support me, a good job, a comfortable home, and fluffy-butted cats that delight me with their antics. There is a lot more in between each of those highlights, of course, far too many blessings and good fortunes to name in a single post. Plus I have this blog, where I get to write in my random, rambling, tangent-laden style.
Next month marks 19 years since B, my eldest child, left us in the same state of stunned despair, and I still struggle sometimes with my grief and imaginings of the different life with her still in it. But today I am mourning for another life abruptly cut short, and while Heaven welcomes her home with open arms, her family and friends are dazed and struggling to continue this “new normal” of life without her in it.
Rest in peace, MRG.