When tragedy hits, everyone trips over themselves to be the strong one, to hold it together or pass on platitudes. Since I’ve never been one for sugar-coating, I guess I’ll be the “weak ” one, because honestly, when someone I care about passes over, I don’t much care if I appear strong or stoic. I learned a long time ago how much that sucks … So, here it is:
Today, the loss really sinks in. When I wrote last night, I was raw inside, but still coming to grips with the shock. There was a kind of dull pain, a numbness, to how I felt then – like the vague pain of knowing you hurt, but not being quite sure where or how.
Today, I know the answer to those questions, and it’s like a knife drawn across my heart. The numbness of disbelief is gone, ripped away like a veil that covered over everything – both the good memories, and the ugly truths.
What ugly truths? The ones that stalk every feeling person when a loved one passes the veil. Guilt, selfishness, regret, anger, and even sorrow. All necessary to the process of healing, but all the uglier side of loss. After all, it is the living who feel the loss most. Those passed on remember only the love we feel for them.
I’ll admit to my guilt. It’s a familiar guilt I’ve struggled with for nearly a decade – the guilt of not being there. In my heart, I know there wasn’t much I could do, but I still feel I should have been able to do more. I should have done whatever it took, to be there for Mary, to be there now for Renee, Gen, and Joe.
I know an overwhelming amount of guilt that I ever lost contact with Mary, and that it was for so long. The time I missed out on being in contact is time I can’t get back, and I feel as if I robbed us both of that. This loss makes me feel even more guilty and depressed by my virtual isolation from the people closest to my heart – my family in every sense of the word – these days.
And yes, some of my feelings are selfish. I miss Mary. I miss her razor-sharp wit, her biting humor. If I close my eyes and listen real close, I can almost hear her voice – and that hint of self-effacing humor and touch of sarcasm that underscored our conversations. The affectionate squabbling of siblings who, in many ways, were too much alike.
I miss her ready grin, laced with mischief, as if she was some demented elf in the midst of concocting her own brand of mayhem.
But, most of all, I miss her compassion, buried beneath all the layers of sarcasm and mischief. Mary was someone who loved life uninhibitedly, loved her family without reservation, and was always the kind of person, the kind of friend, the kind of sister, you were proud to call a part of your life. More than anything else, I regret that I didn’t tell her that nearly often enough.
Believing what I do of life and death, it’s easier to bear the sadness. I know, to the core of my soul, that Mary and I will meet again, someday. And I would never be so selfish as to wish she had stayed – I would never wish her the pain and struggle she underwent in these past months.
So what DO I wish?
This is where I get angry, because I wish the scourge of cancer never came knocking. For Mary, for her partner, for her children and grandchildren, I wish that the terrible beast of illness had stayed far from her door. I wish we’d had more years of the good times – the laughter and the close contact of family. I wish we’d stayed in contact more, and that I wasn’t so lousy about phone calls. Most of all, I wish I could have done something to stop this whole situation. Not knowing how, feeling helpless against the unfairness of it all, makes me want to punch walls or scream.
Going forward, I know I’ll heal. I’ll remember the good times, and the laughter, far longer than I’ll remember the pain of loss. But, for now, I only have regrets, wishes, anger, and the sorrow of knowing that, no matter how temporary the parting, my world is a dimmer place, today.