August was five months. I was absolutely certain that it was six months. It wasn’t. Now, it’s six months. And ten days.
In bereavement group, the facilitator told us that the human brain needs at least six months to begin to comprehend “This person is not coming back.”
Six months to the day Mark died, I cried most of the way to work. I don’t cry every day now, or even every week. I do often cry enroute to work because that’s what I was doing when I got the call. The scenery and the morning light – and pow, flashback, and I’m right there, again. On some mornings, I’m sure that I’m either going to have to turn around and call in sick, or get to work and call from the parking lot to say I’ll come in as soon I can dry up.
On September 22nd, I arrived on time but barely holding myself together. No way I could have called in. The day was a marathon, for everyone, with a full schedule and several people out. The work space where I was assigned is a very public one that requires being able to maintain a pleasant game-face. I went into the office and walked straight to the restroom. I could feel it, the tsunami, churning just below my skin.
How to make it through the work day? I didn’t have a prayer. So I went into a coworker’s office and asked for one. I said, “Mark died six months ago today. Will you pray with me?” He said “Absolutely.” We sat down facing each other, hands clasped, and after a few moments of silence, I spoke from my heart and he spoke from his. And then we went on about our work.
It turned into one of the best, lightest days that I’ve had in months.
“Thank you and please help and thank you” – my prayer wasn’t much more complex than that. A simple plea from an angry woman who doesn’t much believe in God anymore. And still, by that afternoon, I was laughing and meaning it.
Didn’t last, of course not. Life doesn’t work like that, even for “normal” people. Grief is grief is grief. You live it as you’re living through it. The day has not yet come where I snap my twig and run mad, or lock myself in my bedroom and start growing my hair and fingernails ala Howard Hughes. Not yet. There are moments where I am swamped, flooded, overwhelmed with knowing: Mark is gone. There are long stretches of time, hours, of procrastinating. (How long has it taken me to get back to this space and write?)
Grief is exhausting. My body-mind is constantly engaged, processing, always processing. There is so much to process.
As in, what about our anniversary? It’s bearing down on me, November 7th. It would have been our 20th wedding anniversary. And it’s hanging over my head like a sack of cement at the end of a frayed rope. The day will come, and Mark will still be gone. In two years, our sons will graduate (I hope) from high school, and Mark will still be gone. In five years, seven years, ten years – Mark will still be gone.
So, so much to process, always.