Grief isn’t linear and it f**king sucks.
When I was younger, 8 years old to be exact – I lost my Pop-Pop to cancer. A concept I couldn’t quite grasp and even though I carried that loss with me throughout my life. I think I was too young to fully understand. Losing him did mean that I only had my Mom-Mom left in the grandparents department as I never had the privilege of meeting my Dad’s parents before they passed.
Grief is different when you’re a child.
The impact changes as we grow, but as I’ve said before- never linear and ultimately feels like each loss we experience is connected like a spider web.
I remember the sunken feeling I felt when I was in my early twenties and experienced grief in a different way. The news hit me like a ton of bricks. My childhood friend had passed away at the mere age of 23. A woman I admired, a bright light on this earth with one of the kindest & loving families.
That hurt, for years and it still does.
Five years ago last week I lost my Mom-Mom and despite the time that has passed – the impact still comes in tidal waves of emotion. She was my rock, the person I talked to on the phone with every day (on my ridiculous 3 hr round trip commutes to work from South Philly to Germantown via Septa and A LOT of walking), and the woman that believed in me unconditionally & loved me just the same.
There is a memory her and I both cherished that we reminisced about often. It was from when I was younger and I would stay over at her house on the weekends. One of those days we happened to be sitting out on the porch looking up to the sky and suddenly what felt like magic – swarms of golden monarch butterflies appeared. As they migrated above our heads we counted well over 100. Nature’s work of art.
When she got sick five years ago, it all seemed to happen quickly and suddenly. I remember it was right around my birthday and I was at my sister’s visiting my nephew. I promised my Mom-Mom I would make a stop back home to see her before returning to the city. Something in my gut made me feel like I should surprise her a day early.
I was twenty minutes from home when my uncle called. They had taken her to the hospital and it wasn’t good. My insides suddenly felt like a million pretzel knots and I lost the ability to remember how to breathe. The plans had changed and I was to meet my other sister at the hospital, so we could go in to see her with my aunt and uncle.
My gut instincts knew heartbreak was near, and that the time I had left with my Mom-Mom was limited.
For two nights I stayed with her in the hospital, not wanting to leave her side – I wanted her to know I was there, even if she wasn’t completely lucid. I didn’t want her to wake up and be alone. Growing up she made it her mission to know she was always there for me, I couldn’t bare the thought of leaving her by herself.
When the time did come that week when I had to leave to go back to the city, it was one of the hardest things I ever had to do and still to this day that remains true.
I knew when I looked her in her eyes and she looked back at me. That was going to be the last time we exchanged “I love yous” face to face. And it was.
Grief is a roller coaster that you ride blindly.
That week was difficult – being alone was the worst and work was more of a reminder than a distraction. I was able to talk to her twice that week on the phone to hear her voice, which felt like a gift in itself. But then that day at the end of August came and my phone rang. She was gone.
No matter what people speak of losing a loved one – the hard truth is this: it never gets easier, you learn to live with the grief.
And there are times when something important happens and I have to remind myself she isn’t a phone call away anymore.
There are no answers, there is just love and the impact of that love that we all carry with us from those that we have lost along the way.
Grief isn’t linear and may be infinite, but the love that remains within us knows no bounds.