Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why we say goodbye forever

The date always sneaks up on me. You'd think I'd have it marked down on a calendar somewhere, circled in black maybe. But it sneaks up. This year I was listening Dreamboat Annie and thinking about going to my very first concert at Miles Field and it hit me - today marks 13 years since Greg's death.

I kind of like the word "death" in situations such as this one. I didn't "lose him," because I know right where he is, scattered on the hillside at Ostrich Peak with an excellent view of the Rogue Valley. We're going to go visit him next week, my friends and I. He's not "late," even though he was always late, infuriatingly, chronically late. He wasn't late for his own funeral, but only because as far as I know he had no control over that one.

He hasn't "passed on." He never passed on anything. That, as much as anything else, hastened his demise. For a while, I was there with him, keeping up. Racing with him, shot for shot. Gonzo. After a while I had to get up the next day and could no longer close the place down every night. After a while I drifted reluctantly into adulthood. He tried.

Before I wrote this, I took a walk so I could spend a moment fully feeling that weight in my chest that had started building. I walked out into a brilliant fall day, all crisp and full of promise, and I let the tears come. As I walked across an open field I watched my shadow, cast sharp and black in mid-day. I let my breath lead me through. I gave thanks that I'm still here.

Closure is a myth. I don't want closure. Closure is a word people use when they yearn to figure out how to shut the pain away. I think that the pain is now a part of me, giving some weight to my natural buoyancy, some shadow to the ball of light that sits inside me. We are an assemblage of every breath we've ever taken, every midnight clock-tick, every smile. My grief over Greg's death is a book, shelved and treasured. Today I take it down and hold it. I write. I shelve it again, back in the gap that was left when I pulled it down.

Sometimes now I'll have a client who is in the fresh clawing stages of grief, and I am graced with having been there. I'm made better by my knowledge of how it feels when someone is there one day, and gone the next. I know how it feels to try and make sense of it, and to finally realize that there is no sense, only that mixture of emptiness and eventual acceptance.

I'm grateful to know how that feels. Thank you, my brother. I'll see you soon, next week on the hillside. I'll tell you then, too.


  1. this was beautiful, and so very true

  2. I've still struggling with a couple recent deaths. Well, it still feels recent to me anyway. This week has been especially tough. I'm grateful I'm still here, as well as to the paid staff and volunteers at The Dougy Center. I am also grateful for your beautifully crafted words here....they tell me I'm not alone. And, that someday it may or may not get easier. Thank you for sharing!

  3. I loved Greg, and the last time I saw him was my wedding....with you (not to you!)I will think about you guys next weekend......with all my love.....Kim S....

  4. I wish I knew what this was like. I wasn't really on speaking terms with my father when he died. He was murdered by his nephew when I was 16. I'll miss out on so much. Having a father for the rest of my life. Of forgiveness, and the possibility of reconnecting. That's all I can mourn. I want to know what it's like to miss him, more than just on the surface. I know I was "just" being an angsty teenager, hating her father for being out of contact for two years, save one or two short notes. I know a lot of people my age would have responded the same way. That doesn't help any. I'm 28 now. It's still my biggest regret.