I came down with a stomach bug that has been going around for a while. It hit hard, and though the fever lasted less than a day (thank you oils!), the nausea and extreme exhaustion lingered all week.
I felt useless and, full transparency, a bit down on myself because in the midst of planning events and coaching others through their own health challenges, I had been struck hard.
Side note: No one is immune to getting sick. But the story I told myself was full of "Get your stuff together, woman!" and "For God sake, move!"
It was rough.
Sunday rolled around and I realized that is was St. Patrick's Day, a day I never forget. Not just because I have a wee bit o' Irish in me (I do) but because I went to the University of Dayton. St. Patrick's Day is bigger than Christmas there. But I digress. All the green and the leprechauns and the merriment missed me until the day of, and then it hit me like a tidal wave. March 17th is two days away from March 19th, which is the day Eric died.
It was like a slow fall that just didn’t end. I couldn’t really pull it together all day. I was irritable for no reason, and then the tears started… so I just sat down and gave in to them. I cried and I talked. Nothing really new to say, just sad. And mad. And hurt.
His death was like someone disappearing mid-sentence. I wasn’t done. None of us were.
I’m certain he wasn’t.
After the tears subsided, I fell asleep. Waking the next day still holding the piece of Botswana Jasper I bought a few weeks ago from the woman at the farmers market. It was pretty and stuck out to me, so I got it. Turns out it is said to be helpful in moving through grief. When I read that it was a grieving stone, I sort of laughed. Suddenly pieces fell into place and I could see that my body and spirit had been preparing for March 19th long before I even clocked that it was coming.
I remember a few weeks after he died, after yet another tearful moment, telling Crystal that “I’m ready to be over this part. I can’t keep crying all the time.” In her gentle wisdom she replied, “but that isn’t how grief works. You don’t get to decide when you’re done. You breath, you cry, you move through it.”
And I know. Every year on March 11th I can’t help but reminisce about my granddaddy. The funny thing is, I don’t remember celebrating a single birthday of his. He died when I was 8, but nearly 30 years later I can still remember him, and more clearly losing him, like it was yesterday. So it goes when you love with your whole heart. I’ll always miss him.
Just like I’ll probably talk to Eric in my heart, and my head, and sometimes out loud until I see him again.
First thing this morning I texted my brother Damon. I just needed to know he was there. I couldn’t bring myself to say I was struggling because I was resisting the inevitable fall apart that was threatening to break out of my chest. So, I didn’t, but the simple fact that I can text him and get a response… because he’s here… well, it just makes the tears fall harder. Like Damon said, we were supposed to grow old together.
So, today, I let the tears fall. I talked to myself, to him, to God. I went outside as much as possible. The thing that resonated with me, and why I’m sharing something so deeply personal, is that I don’t think we are told nearly enough to be gentle with ourselves. To listen to our bodies and stop when something is off, to check in. My whole being started to relive the trauma of losing him suddenly, before my mind settled on the obvious. I’m still grieving, and that’s okay. It’s okay. I’m okay. Part of healing is being present through the pain, and gently reminding yourself to breath…