Death anniversaries are such an odd concept. Why does it feel like we’re celebrating something? Or are we just saying, Hey everyone, X years ago on this day, a terrible thing happened and then we absorb that wave of grief and head off to work? Do I have to eternally acknowledge January 22nd, February 27th, April 1st, October 21st, September 30th and keep adding dates to the list of mornings when I wake up, check the date, and form a sharp lump in my throat? For awhile it felt like there’d be a new date added to my list every year until the day that I die as well.
This is my bitter observance/grief absorption/annual acknowledgement of the fact that one year ago today, my family lost my grandpa. More than that, this is recognition of the milestone that for the first time since 2015, my family has experienced an entire year without an earth-shaking, heart-shattering, equilibrium-devastating loss. Since losing Grandpa, I haven’t held my breath, squeezed my eyes closed, and prayed hard for another day with somebody. When my mom’s name lights up my phone, my stomach doesn’t instinctively lurch, preparing itself for the bad news we’ve grown accustomed to.
When I meet somebody new, I’m not brainstorming the ways I can lightly tell them that I’m freshly grieving a person I love very much and it’s not that I don’t want to hang out it’s just that I’m feeling sorry for myself and I can’t assemble the energy needed to listen to what you have to say. And well, really, I’m grieving like six other people as well. And now’s just not a good time for me to add someone new to my life because there’s a possibility that I’m cursed and you might get hit by a bus if you grow too close to me.
For a full year, I’ve spent more time thinking about my own life than I have spent obsessing about what happens afterwards. Last year I wrote, “My grandpa fought a good fight, now it’s time to heal.” I can still see the scars left from tearing apart at the seams when I sit with the knowledge that I’ll never see a loved one again. I can still feel my heart strings tangle up in each other when I hear certain songs or smell certain scents. The hurt is still there but I’m grateful for the first year since we lost Sam spent without the anxiety that my wounds may reopen and explode all over again at any given moment.
Where there is deep grief, there was once a great love and how lucky am I to have loved and been loved so greatly; how lucky am I to have had to learn to grieve so freely?