Grief is an interesting emotion. You would think since I've been surrounded in it on a daily basis over the past 20 years (give or take a few days) that I'd have a good grasp on it. And frankly, for the most part I genuinely believe I do. It's been just a little over 3 years since my father passed away and I'd say 90% of the time I do my utmost best to keep my emotions about it at bay. Maybe that's good, maybe that's bad, but it's how I exist and it seems to be working for me thus far. However, every once in a while I get taken off guard by the power of grief and its relentlessness to take over for short intervals here and there.
Tonight Gage, Eric and myself went for dinner for Eric's birthday, and just as we were pretty much wrapping up, a young girl in her early 20's walked in and was seated at a two person table. It was clear she was waiting for her dinner date to show up. When the waitress approached her I heard the patron tell her that 'her dad was just parking the car and he'd be right in.' A twang of jealousy overcame me. Just a mere sentence like that. Silly, I know. And then he walked in. Their interaction caused a lump in my throat and my nose to tickle a bit. My eyes immediately started to water. I didn't get it; they weren't over the top. They didn't even hug hello. It was just the casual way he spoke to her and how she smiled at him while she talked. It was clearly an easy conversation between a girl and her dad. And man was I green with envy. I had to swallow my tears. It came over me that suddenly and that powerfully; like an undertow. It's a good thing I was sitting because it could have taken my feet out from under me.
Three years. I'm good! I can talk about my dad and laugh and smile. I'm well on my way to recovery. Aren't I? I'm suppose not. I can keep trying to fool myself. I can paddle through the day with a smile on my face and bury my emotions like the best of them, but once in a while the truth surfaces and I'm reminded that I've lost such a huge, mega influential person in my life...a steady, a constant, a norm. And maybe I'm not adjusting to change quite as awesomely as I think I am. Every once in a while I'm reminded that I'm not a robot. Every once in a while my emotions get the better of me. Sometimes it hurts. Just for a few minutes and then I find something else to focus on and I smother it down below the surface. Most of the time I'm not even consciously aware that I'm doing it.
Sometimes I think I need to learn how to swim in my grief for a little while. I tread from time to time, but sometimes I think I need to dunk my head under water, fully submerge myself, and hold my breath for as long as I can. But drowning terrifies me. Even when it's metaphorical. Treading will have to do, because I'm pretty sure I'm a long way from land and I'm not a very good swimmer.