He chuckled as we sat around in a circle just outside of the kitchen. My knees kept bumping cold metal as they bounced nervously against the top of the table. I was anxious and I didn’t want to hear the truth in what he was laughing at.
“No month is safe,” he said.
“What do you mean?” my little heart whimpered, ” I thought we were heading out of the dark?”
He was years ahead of me in this journey of losing someone you love and while I nodded in agreement to his jovial nature, those four words sunk in deep.
Sitting around the table at grief group, my muscles tensed yet again, absorbing his chuckling blow.
A truth bomb. Shit, I hate those.
This year we made it through the death-aversary, four birthdays, Father’s Day and even the 4th of July. We skipped our old family vacation and planned outdoor adventures. Summer, apparently, has come to a close.
It’s still August – although my brain keeps fast forwarding into the next calendar page and despite Starbuck’s efforts to launch fall preemptively, I’m craving September. I’m sitting in what I’d like to think is the safe season. July through September. Free of triggers and holidays, fewer milestones where the cut out of him missing isn’t supposed to be so obvious.
And yet, like he said, “there’s no safe month.”
For pre-season football has started, and we’re planning vacations, and their wedding anniversary lurks down the road, hiding two weeks before the Halloween decorations come out flailing their skeleton legs – thin, white, and wobbling about.
After that will come Thanksgiving and feasts at tables where he won’t sit and strained family relationships become more obvious.
No month is safe. Grief is an ever present partner that lingers. She’s big at times and smaller at others and in this respite time of early fall, she’s giving me one swift kick in the gut to say “Ha! I’m still here and if you look, he is too.”
I was at Target yesterday, stocking up on staples like soap and toothpaste (ps. Dr. Bronner’s toothpaste is silly expensive – but ya know…. the environment). As I was walking the aisles, wandering, hoping for sales racks, I happened upon two kids in their cart.
The older sister, probably five or six, sat in the front basket, her legs dangling between the cut-out holes as she showed her younger brother the hand gestures needed for this moment’s activities.
His hair was sticking up in the back and his tiny-toothed smile caught my eye as he repeated his sister, “If you’re happy and you know it, shout hooray!”
He threw his little hands in the air, arms shooting out of a dinosaur t-shirt into his mother’s space with enthusiasm.
Fits of giggles erupted and they started again.
“If you’re happy and you know it, shout hooray!”
Some days, I can’t fathom how it has been over two years since he died. Or that I hope to live 57 more years without him. Or that other people I love will kick the bucket too – I won’t know when or how and thank God for that.
What I do know, and what I can fathom, is I want to be like that little boy – tucked in a gentle embrace of a loving guide who shows me how to do the appropriate hand gestures in these never-safe months.
God and sure, Dad, are tapping on my shoulders, saying look around, there’s much to be happy for. Shout hooray!
So here’s to hooray for this weeks beautiful, beautiful things:
Target – I made it out of there with spending $96.48 – for those of you who know the Target rules – if you get a cart, plan to spend $100.
Sunsets at softball games
Clients who send you care packages just because
Other people who get it – the ones walking and wandering and hoping for reprieve.
Crunchy apples with almond butter,
Honest, authentic, brave sharers of personal truth,
and for carts with leg holes and the wisdom the little ones give.