Trying To Understand What Can Not Be Explained
Months ago I sat down with Alan, Grace’s boyfriend, and talked with him about what was next. Something big was about to happen. It was evident to all. The tension was building, like the approaching apprehension of watching all the animals fleeing in one direction as you are rushing and falling toward the culminating unknown. Something massive, life-changing, is just out of sight. You try with all your might to prepare for the unpreparable. If I talked with Alan like I knew what was about to happen, it was a lie. I certainly didn’t know. I only knew of what I believed and hoped. It was easy to look at their life together and know neither had a clue of what was going to be. Even in their wildest dreams they could not comprehend the 90 degree turn their life was about to take. I wanted to help prepare him for what was coming. He had not seen Grace in a couple of days as she had been in the hospital. Also, Grace had chosen to go under hospice care and I knew the weight that would carry with him. My heart was broken for what Alan was about to face and I wanted desperately to try and help prepare him for her current condition. My own clarity, if I had any at the time, is eroded now. I will be the first to say the fork in the road has been taken and the bend has proven to be more challenging and diverse than I could have ever imagined. The change in my life has overwhelmed me, humbled me and there are times I feel completely lost and insignificant as I try to navigate on this new road.
Grief has many components. Few things in life are flat, without dimension, certainly nothing of value. Grief, like love, is multi-layered. Each layer comes with its own crispness of memories, mind numbing pain, confusion or understanding. Staring me in the face like a mannequin through a shop window is the vision of being at peace with the fork in the road. The thought of Grace is ever constant. Thoughts of our first moments together as she was freshly born and crying and I was out of breath and our last moments together when I was crying and she was out of breath. Random thoughts hold my attention of her childhood while my mind wanders as I wash dishes. My brow furrows with the knowledge of the college graduation never to come or the wedding dress never tried on or the grand-children never held. And I grieve. I wonder with quiet indignity when it will all go back like it was once before. In simple terms, I grieve for the fork in the road. Time marches on and I wonder again with rage and tears when it will all go back like it once was before?? I grieve for the loss of our Grace but I also grieve to be stuck on a path taken in which there is no turn around. I had become so accustomed to loving the forward progression of life. When the kids are little you look forward to the approaching years. You glory for each new step taken or driver’s license earned. And you marvel in wonder for what is next. But, now it seems, I want to get off this ride and go back. “Please, someone, turn this thing off and let me go back!! I feel sick and dizzy and I just want to get off!” And still the sun crosses the sky and the moon rises. And the fork in the gets further and further behind and you suddenly realize as the knot in your stomach grows and tightens, there is no going back. Life as you knew it is over. Who you were then when she was alive is gone. Mother of four is now mother of three. So, I grieve for the fork in the road because I have the understanding there is no option but to let the thoughts of who I was before the fork, die. The picture of what I had in my head of my family and myself and our future together has changed. I can grieve that understanding but in the end, if I am to have a future, I must choose to let go. It is one thing to grieve the loss of Grace and another to grieve the loss of the road I cannot get back to. Life changes. Sometimes that change is hard. Sometime that change is out of our hands. Both usually go hand in hand like rain and weeds. I miss Grace, but I know I will see her again and my grief lessens. I see her healthy and whole and I am joyful. The bend in the road is not hateful or bitter or against me, it is just a bend in my road. How I choose to walk out this bend or fork is up to me. I believe I could grieve the fork in the road for the rest of my life. I have seen people do it. I have seen no one do it well. So, the choice is mine. How do I walk out this road, knowing there is no getting back to what once was. Can I let those thoughts and hopes of “what once could be” go?
Slowly but methodically, I am coming to terms with the fork in the road. The past wants to hold us to waste away but certainly I can see there is no future in the past. I can not move forward wishing to go back. What a shame it would be to forsake a bright future for a past that can never be claimed. There are no clear and perfect roads for any of us. But, together we forge ahead and do not stumble to look behind. Together, we take one step forward at a time and choose to joy in the road we are currently walking.