It happened again. This time I was in the parking lot of a Home Depot. I saw a man that was slightly portly with a ring of hair and a mustache and it was all I could do to tamper the feelings of wanting to rush up to him and throw my arms around him.
What is this strange urge that comes over me every now and then to hug men that look slightly like Wilford Brimley? It’s the urge to be able to hug my father again. It’s that damn sneaky thing called grief hitting the door bell again.
I wish I could just put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door.
What is it with this emotion and this journey? It really never ends. Just when you think you’ve moved past something, bam, you hear a song on the radio that reminds you of them, for me it’s “Call Me Al” by Paul Simon and you’re done. It feels like you’re back to square one.
It’s been eight years since he past. Eight years! That’s almost a decade and though I don’t wake up crying, the way I did right after he past, that sting of loss is still kicking around, waiting until I’m trying to find my car in the lot of Home Depot with closet organizers in my cart to pounce.
It feels like a punch in the stomach.
A random punch in the stomach. Some days it can knock the wind right out of you and I don’t like it. I don’t like being blindsided by anything, especially the feeling that a fist is making its way through my small intestine.
I actually thought, at one point, I could trick grief into not sneaking into my life.
My father passed away while directing a middle school production of “The Wizard of Oz”, for months after he died, the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was agony to hear. The lyrics, when placed over the back drop of someone’s passing, even seem like they’re talking about death. It was horrible to hear.
But I love that song. I knew I was going to have children that would need to hear that song. I wanted to trick grief. I was going to listen to that song as many times as it took until it no longer had any hold on me.
So that’s just what I did.
I put it on my iPod, at the time, put it on repeat and that’s what I did for an entire afternoon. I listened to that song and cried until I was literally cried out. Meredith score of one. Grief score of zero.
If that song ever comes up, I’m good. I’ve worked through it. “Call Me Al”, simply makes me happy now as do any Monty Python quotes.
But this is the last thing. Seeing him… or a facsimile of him.
Maybe I can do it again? Maybe I can put out a personal ad for men that are in their late 50’s who resemble Wildford Brimley to congregate in one room. Maybe I can just sit in the room and deal with thirty versions of my dad looking back at me. Maybe I’ll get over it that way. Or maybe that’s the time I really need to start to think about going back on my meds.
After this weekend, I sat with myself. I was actually mad at myself for getting sad during the ride back home. Then it occurred to me. As much as I want this grief journey to be over and the hurt to just disappear…
We have this strange thing in our society that tells people that there’s a time frame for this journey and if you’re not off the path when it’s deemed appropriate, then you’re not going down the path the right way.
I call that ignorance to the process.
I believe when someone passes, the loss cuts you. The open wound heals over, but there’s always a scar. What do you do with a scar? A really big one? You run your fingers over it every so often, remembering the pain of the day you got it and the joy and blissful ignorance you had before you got it.
Those who tell you that feeling the tingle of pain still in the scar tissue is not normal, have no scars themselves.
To truly empathize with pain, you have to have experienced it yourself.
After this weekend, I really have had to be more honest with myself and say that grief is like a casino in Vegas, the house is always going to win. If you play the game at some point you’re going to have to pay up and sometimes that payment is taken out in small amounts over the course of your life.
But I can honestly say this, playing the game and having my dad in my life for as long as he was, was worth every moment of paying this debt.
And if you do see me force a hug on a strange man that slightly resembles my dad in the parking lot of a hardware store, can you do me a solid and send the arresting officer the link to this blog entry?