Grief Is Not Rational
When they cleaned out my grandfather’s room, the top drawer of his nightstand by his bed was full to the brim with uneaten mints — Lifesavers brand — he would put them in the drawer, forget they were there, ask my grandmother to buy him more — rinse and repeat. I have the thought, however irrational, however illogical; that if he had only remembered they were in there, those Lifesavers mints, if somebody had told him, if he ate them every day the way he used to, that he would still be here. They would have saved his life — chalky spearmint working its way to his brain and fixing what was broken.
More irrational thoughts. More heartbreak in the place logic cannot reach.
My grandfather loved me more than anyone in the world, and I suppose a part of my brain believed that all the love for me was tied up in him, and with him gone, there is no love left in the world for me. I know this is not true; I have received an outpouring of love that clearly contradicts this foolish notion — but what if it is set to run out? The love, I mean. What if this is just spilling over, lingering, the television screen still fuzzy with light after you turn it off.
I have taken to eating the mints whenever I get the chance. I have never understood why Christians take the Sacrament; the meaning of eating a small part of the body of Christ was lost on me — but I think I understand it now. To love someone so much, to believe in them so fully that you want to eat a symbolic piece of them, so as to keep them with you always, to become one with them. I get it now.
I knew he was not coming back, that that was impossible — I cannot stress enough that even though I knew this in my bones, there was still a part of me that liked to pretend, which brings us to the death certificate and the urn with his ashes on the kitchen counter — much harder to pretend when you are holding the proof literally in your hands.
I have the wild thought that this — not only my grandfather’s stroke that led to his death but the illness itself — is all somehow my fault. Not even in some Big Cosmic Way, like I am a bad person and now the person I love most dying is my fault, but in the smallest ways. This kind of thinking is not uncommon with OCD, but what if I’m right? What if my family really is cursed because of me? Because I did not reshuffle the cards when I lost count, or that time I was too tired to check all of the doors in the house thrice and thus did it only once and promised to triple up the next night to make up for it, or I didn’t pump the soap as many times as I needed to at the bar on my 21st birthday because I felt like people were staring at me and I was embarrassed, or, or, or, or, or — see how quickly reason runs away from me?
I’ve lost the thread so many times I’ve given up trying to keep track of it.
There is truly no way of knowing, while we’re alive, what Happens after Death. The not-knowing drives me crazy. I can theorize and wonder and hope with all my heart, but there is just no way of being absolutely, 100%, Logically sure, and — to be frank — it makes me want to lobotomize myself. I cannot be in control of something I know nothing about, and I desperately need to be in control.
There is no control when someone you love dies. You can plan and coordinate and tick all the boxes and take care of everything, and STILL, you will be galloping manic, completely losing it, every feeling you’ve ever felt spilling out of their carefully marked boxes.
These past few weeks, I have often thought of the phrase “driven insane with grief.” It seems a bit silly of a phrase to me now. Isn’t everybody who grieves slightly insane? Okay, sure, I’m not going to go on a killing spree due to my grief, BUT I UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE DO. The whole world has stopped making sense! And I can see why someone even less well-adjusted than I would resort to murder to try and make sense of death. My Grief Insanity is more of the Victorian Woman kind, anyway — I can be found at odd hours of the night wandering the grounds, barefoot and weeping, howling at the moon.
My therapist told me she is so thankful I had him for the 22 years I did, that I needed so badly for someone to love me and the Universe gave him to me, and I should try to regard the time we did have together as a blessing, not something that was cruelly cut short (even though it was). A beautiful sentiment and I know she’s right, but I’m not there, yet, with the feeling it. Right now, I only have the energy to be angry and so, SO sad. I’m angry with the world, but I think I’m angry with my grandfather, too. For leaving me behind.
We often talk of Survivor’s Guilt, but what about Survivor’s Rage? How DARE you abandon me? How DARE you go somewhere I cannot follow? I cannot believe you would do this to me, just up and die when I needed you the most.
And then the storm passes, and I am left with nothing but pain and guilt, sore knuckles, and a sore heart, too.
Time is made of sand — it slips through your fingers and scratches your eyes, always sticking to places time shouldn’t be. Here in the House of Grief, we are all half-blind, itchy and uncomfortable, staring at one another in silence.
It’s April, now, one month and five days since he died. Grandma’s daffodils and tulips are beginning to bloom; the Mexican Cowboys ride their horses down Main Street, the magpies are flying overhead — life goes on, just as he said it does.
I would be a liar if I said I felt any better.