Yesterday was Thatdad's birthday - almost 8 months since his death. I thought it would be a good time to reflect on my current state of being.
It's so cliche to say that when someone dies, a part of them stays with you - but it's true. I feel as though I carry an extra burden, something which sets me apart from everyone else. It's a selfish and self-centered feeling I bring to every conversation, every relationship - where I feel like no one has it as bad as they think they do, no one is as bad as I. Every time I'm with someone there's always a part of me which screams "poor me!" Because of this I still have a hard time being truly sympathetic to anyone else. While the rest of my generation bemoans the loss of Michael Jackson, John Hughes, and Patrick Swayze, I feel completely emotionless. "Really? Who cares? These aren't actual people in your life." I likewise just can't involve myself in relationships the way I used to. I always tend to be the person in a relationship who makes all the effort - does the calling, emailing, planning. And now, I just can't bring myself to do all the work. I'm incredibly fortunate to have some truly fabulous people in my life who make the effort to do the reaching out, and those tend to be the people I spend the most time with.
Thatdad is part of every thought I have, and because I am so mind-body connected, he has also become a very physical part of me. Shortly after Thatdad died, back when I had just moved back home from Thatmom's house, I awoke one morning with a sore back. As the day went on, my back got stiffer and sorer, until I wasn't able to stand without getting nauseuous and almost passing out. It's obviously gotten better since then, but a week and a half ago, while I was running at 10k (more on that on a later post) it started spasming. It's been off and on bad ever since. Usually it feels okay in the morning until I get into the car on the way to work. It's all downhill from there. Thatmom is pretty convinced this is my new "stress point" and related to Thatdad's death, but now it's just a constant, painful reminder. Don't worry - I'm going to see Dr. Boyfriend tomorrow, and I'm pretty sure he's going to fix me up all better, just like he always does.
Thatfamily is all coping in different ways. Whenever we get together, as we did last night, we try to picture Thatdad there with us. We talk about him, and what he'd be doing if he was there with us. Last night we discussed what he would think of the restaurant we ate at (and decided it was too dark for him.) Thatboy suggested we get a pocket on his headstone so that we can bring him souveniers from our trips. Thatdad loved to collect crap.
On a brighter note - my crying jags have become far less frequent. I still cry on "occasions" when I miss having him with us, miss being the family we were. And Thatmom started blogging after Thatdad died - each one of her entries brings me to tears over her loss, and how she struggles to define life on her own. I'm now able to watch movies and television without collapsing into hysterics at the sight of a hospital. I was always a little emotional with movies and television (Thatboy became my hero when we first dated when he almost got into a fight with a guy who got really upset with my wailing sobs during Gladiator) but after Thatdad's death, it was taken to the extreme. I now only cry when appropriate - like episodes of Grey's Anatomy.
Has a lot changed in the past 8 months? I guess it depends. In a way my grieving is less intense, it's become almost a constant part of my life, like an extra appendage I've learned to live with. On the other hand, it's still there, as present as ever.