Grief is…

You’re walking barefoot along the beach, enjoying a nice stroll just at the waterline, lulled into a mild trance by the ebbing and flowing of the waves. Every now and then, you get hit with one of those waves that creeps further up the beach than you expected, foaming water rushing past your bare ankles. All of a sudden, you get knocked on your ass by an unusually strong one. Forget getting up, there’s no gaining a foothold. You try to fight it, but you start to sputter and drown each time you go against it. You get exhausted. There’s no getting back to the beach on your own, and though you look, you don’t see David Hasselhoff jumping head first off a moving speedboat (in slow motion) to pull you out. So what do you do? You eventually just give in, let this ride take you wherever it feels like. You’re at the mercy of the undertow.

Back in the real world, this looks like a whole lot of emotion. Your strolls along the beach are merely everyday activities you used to do without batting an eye. Time to go to an award ceremony for Caleb, sweet. You arrive, take your seat, and realize you were in this spot last year, sitting next to her, discussing where you’re taking the boys for dinner to celebrate. Cancer? What cancer? One ticket for the undertow. You’re sitting in a work meeting, one at which she was a regular participant when you worked together. Four families are on the team’s agenda for whom she was the social worker. Are you kidding me? Oh look, you’re getting pulled out. Hey, you have a great idea. Even though she’s not here for your 16th anniversary, you want to take time to select the perfect card for her, to still honor the date. Deep down you hope her light is piercing the darkness somewhere in the cosmos, that your gesture will reach her. You take a field trip to the Hallmark store. Seriously, how did you not see that one coming? Quickly now, pay and get back to the car before this undertow experience starts freaking out the nice Hallmark ladies. Where in the hell is Hasselhoff, that worthless meathead?

So you do this over and over. You eventually figure out that the undertow is nice enough to deposit you back on the beach each time. And, you learn to get up each time, wipe some of the sand off, and keep making your way down the beach. Real world translation: you wipe the snot out of your mustache and dry your eyes. Maybe one of your boys comes up to you, “You okay, dad?” “Yeah, I just really miss mom right now.” “Yeah, me too.” Time to take a stroll.

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13 thoughts on “Grief is…

    1. So true Wendy. My boys definitely keep me going. Not only that, but it’s beautiful that their mom is a part of them. In caring for them, I’m caring for and loving her still.

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  1. Oh, Jesus. And I say this as a fellow Atheist. Your writing is so poignant, and clearly flowing naturally through you and your grievance. It’s incredible reading about the process and progression of loneliness when the most loved one passes. I, too, am unsure about the whereabouts we land in when we are done with this life, but I feel the strength in unconditional love, even in the afterlife, through you. And your boys. And I know they feel that, and reside in that nest of love you and Alicia have built. Thank you for having the courage to be out here with your heart, and bearing your soul in this way. Much love to you and your family. Feeling the tidal waves.

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    1. Sarah, thank you for seeing that love in life, and how like a thread it ties loved ones together, even after the separation of death. So beautifully said, it touched my heart.

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  2. Dearest Josh,
    How beautiful you have put your feelings into words. Like an artist who paints such meaningful pictures or a songwriter when it comes from the depth of their aching soul. I know how much you are hurting and feel your pain. Please save your ‘words’ for future; who knows what is in store.

    I am very thankful you have Ben and Caleb with you and they in their own precious, unknowing way will help you through this hurting Season. They are a part of Alicia and you together. All three of you are in my thoughts and my heart. Hope you never get tired of hearing that. CB

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    1. Such kind thoughts and compliments, thank you mom. Yes, they definitely are a part of Alicia, and not just in biology. In character, temperament, and passion, they each have a part of her. We’ll never get tired of hearing that we’re in your thoughts and in your heart. Much love.

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  3. Okay in tears now internally. My heart has felt a minnute portion of what your heart is feeling. Your words were amazing visuals. You are fortunate to have that gift. Alicia is beyond proud of you, no doubt about it.

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    1. Jacquie, thanks for being willing to go there, to glimpse into this reality. And thank you for that amazing thought about Alicia. She loved most of all, more than jewelry, or concerts, or fancy restaurants, just to get something in writing from me, to hear my heart spelled out on paper. So insightful of you to nail that.

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  4. Oh my goodness Josh yes to all of this. I still sometimes get blindsided with grief. I remember the first time it really hit me after my dad died. I was watching my son in a band concert, and they played that 1812 Overture. What’s His Name, as dad called him, was his favorite composer, and I cried through the entire performance thinking about how proud he would have been to have seen my son performing.

    After awhile, yes, you learn to accept that you’ll surface and move on. But it doesn’t change that momentary feeling of panic as it overwhelms you yet again.

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    1. So touching, thank you for sharing that precious moment you had with your son’s performance. Your dad’s memory was alive and well at that concert thanks to you and your willingness to go through with that experience.

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