There is nothing fair about grief. Life in this universe is inherently unfair, but as we grow wiser we learn various ways to solve problems and make it as fair as possible so we can thrive. Many times there are guidelines and rules to follow based on previous experiences and those passed down from generations. But with grief there are no obvious solutions, no rules to follow, no easy answers. When you lose someone so close to your heart, so important to your daily existence, who you loved more than anyone, your life can seem empty. The word unfair becomes your anthem.
The past few weeks I’ve constantly battled with thoughts of what I should have done, could have done, if only I had known that her time was running out. I know that there is nothing I could have done. She fought the cancer stubbornly with a toolbox of medicines and cures, but in the end she lost. There is no going back and there is absolutely no use in beating up myself wondering… “What if?” I call this the question game.
Questioning if there was anything I coud have done to save my mom allows me to live in the past, but this isn’t a mystery novel. I can’t turn back the pages and figure out the clues. Her novel is finished. I can pick it up and read it, but I cannot rewrite the ending.
I cannot live in the past wishing for a time machine any more than I can live in the future imagining the life I would like to have. The past is over and the future I want can only happen if I take action now in the present. There is no jumping back and forth in this reality. The past has a seductive way of luring me in, inundating me with cozy memories that wrap around my cold and empty self. It blurs the present so my steps forward are muddled, and disguises the future as a place to be feared. This isn’t the first time I’ve been seduced into living in a world long gone, but I hope it’s the last.
There is a lovely distraction when I’m around people or busy working which allows me to move forward intently without worry or sadness. Once I am alone however the grief becomes physical pain, gnawing at my insides; my stomach ties in knots and tears forcefully push against my eyelids. Distractions keep my could have/should haves, at bay.
So my goal now is to spend as little time alone as possible. This is not easy as I don’t have any close family or friends nearby. There are people who I know well and like that I can spend some time with, but they lack the comfort I really crave. That comfort from someone who I’ve always loved. Under normal conditions my introverted personality makes forging new friendships a heavy workload, and now with low energy and cluttered thoughts, relationships become a seemingly insurmountable task.
I substitute closeness for masses of people. I write this sitting in the library surrounded by people I don’t recognize, but this is a comforting place for me and it keeps me from being alone. Later I will go watch the sunset with another crowd and eventually meander home to my roommates dog(she is out-of-town right now and I’m dogsitting). Probably the evening will be whittled away online with shiny, noisy distractions.
I have been seriously looking for a second job so that my empty time will fill, and also to get out from under the squashing weight of debt. In the past 2 weeks several resumes have been sent and applications filled out. I would love to receive a call for an interview, but my previous experience over the years of job searching does not fill me with hope.
My career, or lack thereof is another chance for the “What if?” game. If only I had a real degree, I should have stayed with my other jobs longer, I could have saved more money, What if I had made different choices, etc.
Much of this question game centers around one popular thought, “What if I just gave it all away and took my chances living from one moment to the next?” While this fantasy of living a life free of any demands is somewhat appealing, it’s also scary. Everyday I see people on the streets who have given it all away. They don’t seem too happy, some seem to have given all of themselves away along with their career and things.
The question game doesn’t help, but instead compacts my grief. I don’t yet have an answer for how to stop it, but I’m aware I need to stop it so I’m working on an answer.