Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Grief is an exacting lender.

Tara and I have just returned from a long, wonderful vacation during which we were so busy that thoughts of our recent trials were relegated to a quieter corner for a time. The relief was noticeable but as our days wore on, our longing to be home increased sharply. Call it avoidance, call it indulgence, call it whatever - we let our attention to grief down for a while.

But all things have their due. The entry back to our daily lives has been like reliving the immediate aftermath of Henry's death. The coping mechanisms developed since February seem feeble again and the memories of how he sounded, looked, felt and the times we enjoyed have come back with a stinging pain. It's so viscerally confusing how loving and tender memories can bring on such desperation rather than comfort; how the anxiety and dread of forgetting can be almost welcome. It's such a balancing act - keeping things close with appreciation for the experience of Henry without suffocating with the expectations of what could have been for him, for us, for the girls. The two are intimately tied together and touching one, means painfully grappling with the other.

Being busy helps to distract from the process and thankfully feels almost normal but for a persistent undercurrent of latent emotion, waiting for the quiet time to dispose of its accumulation. Habitual action is soothing for a time, but when I pause to compare it's meaning in light of our loss, my motivation for it disappears. Getting up from the chair seems like an act of sheer will.

I really thought I was doing so much better than this and am having difficulty coming to grips with this recent upsurge of grief. Sometimes I tell myself that I don't want it to get easier, that this pain is the price of keeping his memory fresh and that I'm willing to pay. It feels wrong to avoid him, sometimes I cannot look at his picture despite a longing to hold him again, to have another conversation, to let him know we miss him so desperately.

Our time away came at high interest and now the collection is painful.

We have done this before and will do it again, this wrestling with grief. It has been my mistake in thinking for a moment that we may be beyond the worst. There is a deep process at work and I feel all I can do is let it be what it's going to be.