It is Christmas Day and I’m spending it with my mom and sister in my sister’s cozy condo. We’re cooking, eating, watching movies, relaxing, but I feel restless, more so than usual. I can’t relax. I can’t relax today or any other day as of late. This is one of the many surprising things I’ve experienced since Amik has been gone.
No one can tell you in advance how you will experience the loss of a loved one. I lost my Dad when I was twenty, but this experience has been very different. You can read or hear about others' grief and you’ll find some common threads that you identify with (after all, we are ALL human) but your experience is uniquely your own. This is some of my experience so far:
1. An urgent feeling that life is short. I keep telling people, “It doesn’t matter if you live to 40 or 80, life is short”. I feel a crazy urgency to figure things out and move things forward in all aspects of my life. Unfortunately (or fortunately) life is not keeping up with my expectations. I’m being forced back into the present moment on a regular basis. There is no escaping this process but still, I'm grateful for that sense of urgency and I hope it stays with me.
2. A drive to be bold and brave. I’ve decided that hearing “no” is always, always better than wondering “what if”. “No” is hard to hear, but wondering “what if” is killer. I never want to wonder “what if". Ever.
3. The hardest part hasn’t been the sadness; it’s been the uncertainty. I recognize sadness – it comes in the form of tears, memories and loneliness. Right now, sadness is what brings me closest to Amik. I welcome sadness (as long as I’m alone and not crying in front of other people – I hate that!). To my surprise, it is uncertainty about my future that overshadows my days. Don’t get me wrong – I’m hopeful and optimistic about my future. But it just feels so HUGE and overwhelming. And I can’t help but feel the weight of it all at once.
4. You feel a void and try to fill it but guess what? You can’t. This goes back to my inability to relax. I feel a giant hole and am trying to fill it with busyness. It helps to a certain extent but the void is still ever-present. It follows you everywhere. And it sucks, but it looks like all I can do is feel it and have faith that it will get better because everything always does.
5. I have a life-long coach/cheerleader. Amik is in my heart and in my ear. I can hear him when I’m at the gym. He tells me the exercise I’m doing is too easy and that I need to move my feet *here to make it harder. I hear him say when I’m driving a little too recklessly, “Don’t drive crazy!” I hear him encouraging me when I feel frustrated that things aren’t moving fast enough at work. But most important, I hear him telling me that he loves me. And that love gives me more confidence and faith as I move into Part II of my life than anything else he has ever given me.
“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.” ― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars