Hitting the button

©Lauren Herschel

Closure is a myth

Was planning on just going on a bender this past weekend because the kid was supposed to go with ABFF to NJ for a cancer walk. Unfortunately/fortunately, he got sick.

The Gymgirl’s upset with me for reasons I don’t fully understand.

But I will say that, after not speaking for a week or two, I asked her to watch him because there was something I had to do on Saturday morning (which I’ll tell you about some other time).

She came, no questions asked, and left as soon as I was back. She even made coffee and brought me some rum. And wrote a lovely note to me, the kid, and Alison, to boot.

Like I said, a boy could fall for a girl like that.

Some friends came by later on that night, I think they were worried about my being alone.

Him: What do you have to drink?
Me: Rum. And cinnamon whiskey.
Him: (groans) So, what’s going on with you and the Gymgirl?
Me: I’m not sure.
Him: You should try to work it out.
Me: (laughing) You just like her, which makes sense. But she’ll make her decisions and I’ll respect them.

Drinks at The Aviary in NYC

Her: So, how was your Mother’s Day?

People keep asking me how I was this past weekend, so lemme start by telling you that – over the past two years – I’ve met a number of people that make offhanded comments about my needing closure from what happened.

Sociologist Nancy Berns wrote a book on it and said, “It’s not the dominant narrative in research in bereavement, but it is in popular culture. Those who are working with people who are grieving tend to be less likely to use the concept.”

In other words, “closure” is a word used by those that never dealt with true grief.

I met a lot of people the past couple of years that characterized Alison and my father’s death almost like a high school breakup, where one needs closure to be alright.

You’re never alright watching the people you love adore die. There’s no closure, no peace.

Robin Williams said, in Good Will Hunting, You don’t know about real loss, ’cause it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself.

I remember wanting to grab this person and telling her:

It’s not like when Jimmy broke up with you in eighth grade, Cathy. Why don’t you watch two people you love more than yourself suffer and die slowly – for years – and then talk to me about what I need?

On the flipside, my brother sent me what may be the best explanation of grief I’ve ever read/heard from a blogger named Lauren Herschel, who was, in turn, quoting her psychiatrist.

She said that grief is like having a box with a pain button on the inside and a large ball in that box. In the beginning, every movement causes the ball to hit the button and course pain throughout your body.

I thought I’d share the Ball in the Box analogy my Dr told me pic.twitter.com/YfFT26ffU8

Over time, the ball gets smaller and still bounces around inside the box; it hits the button less, but when it does, the pain is just as crippling as ever.

That’s the truest description of pain/loss/grief I’ve ever read, versus closure, which is teenage angst horseshit.

I’m fine most of the time and most days. But, when I’m alone in my apartment, I’ll just randomly scream. Legit, scream.

My neighbors must think I’m a madman.

But that’s what happens when the grief button is hit. You fall to your knees and you scream.

I’m on my knees less these days. But it’ll never fully goes away.

Anyway, my Sunday was spent drinking, hitting that goddamn button, and screaming.

So, that’s how my Sunday was.

Me: (shrugging) Oh, you know, the usual…

Location: the gym, trying to sober up
Mood: hell
Music: I can never get over the love
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She’s stuck

She’s not in Queens

The boy’s at my mother-in-law’s right now.

She’d written down the names of two friends on a piece of paper the other day. Looking at it, he said, “That says, ‘Mike’ and ‘Pat.'”

He’s only three and can read and do simple math. This makes me so proud but it also reminds me that he’s getting older and smarter. And he’s asking questions.

The problem is that he’s asking questions that I can’t answer. Questions I don’t wanna answer. Questions that I have no response for. Because there’s no response. No good response, rather.

Him: Papa, mom’s in … Queens.
Me: No…no…she’s not.
Him: Not in Queens?
Me: No. But it’s time for bed.
Him: (nodding)

That was a few months ago. A few weeks ago, he asked me:

Him: Why doesn’t mommy come?

Holy shitballs.

Lemme tell you that nothing – nothing – can prepare you for that question when you’re in my situation (and god, I hope you’re never in my situation). I completely chickened out and choked. Completely.

Me: She’s…stuck. She wants to be here but she’s stuck.
Him: She’s stuck? (nods) She’s stuck.

Told this to my mother-in-law who, to her credit, told me as gently as possible that Alison woulda wanted me to tell him the truth.

Alison and I talked about that years ago and we agreed to be honest with our kids about whatever we could.

Felt like such a coward. Have a hard time dealing with cowards and liars and here I was being both with my son.

After a bath a few weeks ago, he looked at me and said, without prompting:

Him: Mommy’s stuck.
Me: No. (shaking head) Papa…misspoke. She’s not stuck.
Him: She’s not stuck?

And I told him what no father should have to say to any three-year old, or any kid ever.

He nodded but didn’t understand. Which, I suppose, is a good thing. He will one day and that makes me feel sick. As for me, I went to the bathroom and pulled myself together. Kindasorta.

I love this boy and I don’t wanna tell him things like this but these were the cards we were dealt.

Thought about Hobbes and his whole “nasty, brutish, and short” quote. For some, it’s shorter than others. It’s that unfairness of it all that eats at me the most.

A good friend of mine told me that, when you lose someone, you feel this uncontrollable rage that pops up randomly. He said that it never goes away.

Wrote him today and told him that he’s never said anything truer in his life.

Location: stuck in my head
Mood: angry
Music: I can’t believe she’s gone
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