Everyone with experience in grief has told me about this time. The time where the funeral is over and everyone gets back to their lives. It is isolating and devastating to not only deal with this grief, but to also be isolated. Everyone is ‘afraid’ of you. You are the representation of everyone’s worst nightmare. You are terrifying to everyone. So everyone ignores you. They see you and say, ‘Hey! How are you?’ And I answer, ‘I’m good, how are you?’ Like a liar. Like they asked and took no thought.
Even if they know, they don’t mention ANYTHING.
Strangers whom I tell my story to are kinder than some of the people who know me.
A man at work who can barely speak english said it best: “I’m so sorry. I don’t feel that. I don’t want to feel that.” I was trying to make work the place where I am not THAT lady. The Sad Lady Who’s Daughter Died. I’m just the lady who works in the kitchen with all the 20 year olds. I told two people there. People I thought have actual life experience. I was just looking for a picture of my bike and my daughter popped up. I wasn’t going to tell him. Then I began crying. His whole faced changed. There is no language barrier for compassion.
One of the other people I told is a guy who just got out of prison. He’d been in for six years. All of his youth. He is forthright about his life right now and I can’t handle chit chat. And I was on the verge of tears all day and unfocused. It was just me and him in the kitchen and I blurted it out. He immediately hugged me. And when we stopped he was crying.
He is actually probably a very unlikely person for me to open up to and have a bond with. He was a drug dealer. But he is very young and trying very hard to start his life over and live a different life. Just like me. He said, “I’m so sorry. You will get through this.” Then I bawled. No one came around the corner, no one walked in, we had this moment. Every once in a while he will walk by and just pat my back. Savannah always championed the people who were harshly judged. I am the same. We are the bungled and the botched.
We’ve had many conversations as oddly enough, we are on the same path. The path of What Do I Do Now? Trying to find a life. Learning. Being adults among children at this job that is possibly saving OUR lives while the others are those who have everything handed to them and paid for by their parents. Complaining that they don’t make enough to wipe down a window.
He is worried about his sister. People tell him they have inspired them to change their lives. Yet he knows he is one phone call away from going right back into his old life. I see my daughter in him, I see my struggling in life in him, I see a person just in the world trying to do good. He is covered in tattoos and has a baby face. He is trying to take care of his loved ones. He’s had a hard, beat up, life against him life. I am on his side. I am rooting for him and he is rooting for me. I like it when I walk in and see him. We see each other.
I am not invisible.
There are some people whom I want to be invisible to and some people I can’t believe that they have cloaked me. I am walking around dragging boulders of grief and pain but I am walking around and they see me and when they don’t say one goddamned thing, I instantly know they do not live in my world. They are not my people, and they drop off the face of the earth.
The people who have showed up in my world, carry me, lift me, check on me, call me, have me over for lunch. Again, strangers have been kinder. I’m like the kid in the cafeteria no one wants to sit by. The people I am gathering around me now, are like all of my Androcules. I am the lion. The thorn in my paw is being mended by compassion and care from the most unexpected people.
The true colors of other people have left me abandoned and shocked. But Ce La Vie. I have to move on. To stay in that is to die.
I am producing art. I am painting, drawing, working, crying, cleaning, bathing, sleeping, drinking, eating and walking around inside of this pain. Yet Savannah is right here. I can only see that if I do NOT do this task of life, and make it amazing, her life was for not. Naught? Either way, I am trying to THRIVE. I’ve spent the last 20 years in survival mode. I am done with that. That’s what prompted me to move to Boulder and start over. Then she died. So how do I start from there? It’s rock bottom. I have to MAKE myself bathe, brushing my teeth is on an accomplishment list. I am grateful for clean hair and that my legs work and that the sun rises. Other days I hate the sun.
I am making my life mine. I don’t think I have ever done that. I say I have been doing it, but standing where I stand now, completely lost of everything familiar, my soul mate, my son far away, in a new town, with so much change; I am now just starting.