“You are gone. You are not coming back to this Earth, and most certainly not answering my phone calls or e-mails, so why can’t I let this go?”
It’s taken me over nine years. Well, to be clear, I haven’t done it yet, but I’m on the brink. I’m about to…
There’s no sense in it being there, yet deleting it seems so permanent.
Let’s be clear about another thing, I’m not delusional (Well, at least not about this.) I know you are not coming back. Death is permanent. I get that. Yet, deleting your name and contact information from my contacts on my phone is something I haven’t been able to do just yet.
Someone else owns your number now. In the beginning, I would call to hear your voice on the answering machine, but I stopped doing that many years ago after a male voice on the other end of the line answered. I couldn’t say a word, so I hung up. Naturally, he called back wanting to know who had called. (I never understood why someone would call back trying to track down the caller.) Anyways…
You are gone. You are not coming back to this Earth, and most certainly not answering my phone calls or e-mails, so why can’t I let this go?
It should be easy, right? Your contact info in my phone is not a piece of you…it’s only a piece that connected me to you. It is gone. That connection is no more.
You are always on my mind, not every waking minute, and maybe not even every single day, but you are there. I don’t always know when the memories will flood in, as they don’t always follow reason, like a birthday or looking at a photo. The memories lurk where I least expect them, like walking through the grocery store, catching a whiff of Poeme perfume, your signature scent, stopping me in my tracks. It’s the sight of tulips, your favorite flower. A song, a phrase, or the cruel tricks my mind plays seeing someone who has a striking resemblance to you at quick glance, and once closer, realizing, of course, there is no way it is you. There are days when I can talk about it without the welling of tears in my eyes, and then there are moments where I read the words “Grateful to be Alive,” and I fall apart. Even writing this, the tears are at a constant ebb and flow. My heart is broken. My heart continues to hurt deeply from your loss.
Oh wait, I said “your loss.” This is not your loss. It is mine, all mine. I lost you. This is my loss. Losing you is an ongoing, forever experience. It was one day, nine years ago, yet I live it over and over again with no end in sight. I remember every single moment from 2:52 p.m. and beyond on October 3, 2007. I can’t remember what I ate last Wednesday for dinner, but I remember every detail – from the yellow pants and black shirt I was wearing, to the five minutes before that phone call – sitting at my desk in my cubicle, eating a banana, and pretending to work but actually catching up on some celebrity gossip on TMZ.com. I remember the voicemail on my phone was broken which meant it kept ringing and ringing and no one could leave a message. I was almost annoyed that my phone was ringing — I was at work, and everyone knew that, so why were they bothering me? Annoyance was short-lived and turned to worry, as the phone kept ringing. Without voicemail, I didn’t know what the urgency was. I stepped outside of the office to call my mom back, only to get an irritating busy signal. Then, my co-worker, Kristin, comes running down the hall to tell me my husband, Brooklin, is on the phone, and it’s an emergency.
The lump in my throat was suffocating, as I sprinted down the hall. I stood at my desk, looking at the half-eaten banana and heard the dreaded words, “Stacy is gone.” I sank into my chair, searching for words, for answers, for relief. There was none to be had. It was a seemingly out-of-body experience, and someone had taken over where the shock had set in. I was operating in robotic fashion. No tears, just shock. The next several hours that occurred following that call are as clear in my memory, as if it just happened two minutes ago.
As your birthday, June 19, or the anniversary of your death, October 3rd approaches, every year I feel myself sinking deeper into the well of overwhelming grief. It may not be noticeable because I’ve gotten really good at living my life on the surface. A surface life works, most of the time, yet it is exhausting. I’m tired. This is a tired that can’t be sustained though. There are not enough uppers or caffeine fixes to push through this tiredness.
The grief will be there always, in some form. I will never be rid of it. Time does not heal your loss — my loss of you — time may make things different, but grief is forever. It’s not about me getting over you. That will never happen. It’s about me being real about the connections to you that no longer serve me through this grief, and there is no connecting to the number I’ve memorized by heart, that number leads me to some random guy that has nothing to do with you.
Consider it deleted. Erased from my phone, forever etched in my mind.
If you have lost someone, you have my deepest sympathy. I do not have the prescription for dealing with grief because it is different for every single person, and it is not one size fits all. The one thing I know for me, I have to allow myself the space to feel all the feelings, and not repress them, because if I try to brush it aside, the feelings will keep coming back and even stronger. Feeling them doesn’t make them go away, but it gives me a sense of calm during a very unsettling time. I have to be vigilant about not staying in the feeling space for too long, though, because then it becomes prolonged suffering.
If there is anything I have learned and would pass along as parting advice on grief etiquette, it would be this: The one thing I will never say to someone who has lost a loved one is, “I know what you are going through.” No. No. No. You have no idea the depths of anyone’s grief. No one person’s loss is the same for anybody.
Above all, be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to feel, and allow yourself to heal. Healing doesn’t mean the grief is erased, but it allows you to carry on, and move forward, with the memories of your loved one in your heart.