It is odd, that “thing” we call grief. Can’t say it is friend or foe. It isn’t a friendly thing. It isn’t a bad thing, either. Many might argue with me about that. After all…we all love sunny days and happy times. But to know the joy of those we must also know the pain of sorrow. In a way, I think of grief as an ocean. Maybe my analogy will resonate with some of you, who also understand the grief which inexplicably comes a-calling without notice or even the slightest clue it is coming to remind you that it is still there…lurking…stealthy…lying in wait…like a furtive opponent, about to ambush you as you turn the corner.
I am starting to think I should have been a surfer…:hanging ten’ as I deftly glide over the curls and across the tops of big beautiful blue-green waves. Until…
…I lose my footing…something breaks below the water’s surface…then in an instant, I am off the board and enveloped by the rushing water, hanging on as I am plunged into the dark water.
Moments ago I was in control…just going on about my day, and then…like a rip tide current, grief rears it’s ugly head without warning…grabbing me and my collection of cherished remembrances…pulling me down underwater, the waves of heartache and nostalgic longing for the good times long past. The tears of sorrow break to the brim, the dam unable to hold them back…the trigger is too strong.
I must let them cascade down my cheeks, hoping like the devil no one can see.
Beyond a description, grief is something which must be attended to, sort of like a phone ringing or the banging on the front door. When it threatens to suddenly appear, knocking insistently at your door, you must simply accept this bad-mannered visitor, and open the door.
And, rest assured, this visitor will only take up a little of your time — it passes. It doesn’t set up camp for a lengthy stay, like it did at first. Like the tide, grief will roll in…go back out…come in…and go. I don’t believe it really ever goes away for good. It isn’t like death, I am afraid.
And this is what the process of grief work embodies. It is something we have to work through, as we move on, going forward without the one we lost.
As we were enjoying the Alan Jackson concert a few nights ago, there was a familiar ‘knock’ at the door of my heart, and my memories of Daddy teaching me to drive. My mom would have really given him hell if she’d known what he encouraged me to do one particular practice-afternoon. The 1970 Chrysler 300 he’d been refurbishing (I called it the bomb) was the car and though he hadn’t quite finished the interior just yet— he sat in passenger “seat” made from an old wooden Pepsi crate — I, all of 15 yrs. old, sat in the brand new leather bucket seat, trimmed in chrome, as I got behind the wheel, just atop of Johnson Road on the hill.
The big 440 cubic-inch Mopar responded to a pedal press, going from a purr to a voluminous roar — and Daddy said, “Drive! Open it up!!!”
And, this Daddy’s girl did. My daddy grinned as I took it up to nearly 100 m.p.h. It was a real rocket…gliding down that hill was exhilarating!
“Don’t tell Mama,” he said. It was our little secret…a great memory now.
I miss you, Daddy…thanks for the sweet memory that I keep of the fun we had that day, for all of the good times, for being the best Daddy this girl could ever have.