Many Layers

by | Nov 28, 2010 | 0 comments

I wish I could funnel these feelings into words somehow but I just don’t think I can.  I am frustrated with the lack of visibility or tangibility of this immense pain.

I’ve been feeling nauseous a lot, and too tired to do a lot.  The sight of your clothes is becoming more and more painful.  I open your sock drawer and stare in disbelief at all of the neat little bundles of socks.  I smell your clothes- even though they’ve been washed because somehow everything in your drawers still smell like you.  I open up the little baggie with your hair and run my fingers along it.  You don’t know, I feel lately, that I’m holding your lock of hair- that you died in Switzerland.  That is what I’m inclined to believe the last few days.  And it carries with it…great despair.

There are just so many layers to grief…it is not just one thing- a person dying.

It is:

the trauma of the day you received the call…of making funeral arrangements for your 33 year old husband, visiting cemeteries, and seeing his shell of a body- searching for those favorite characteristics but not finding them there anymore.

the physical shock and the coming out of the shock.

explaining to a two year old that her father has died and she will never see him again- then watching for signs of her subsequent grieving process and repeating over and over again, “yes, appa died.”

missing your best friend and confidant through all of the above.

grieving in Dan’s place…wondering if he has awareness or had awareness he was dying…grieving for the loss he suffered of his life- the loss of watching his daughter grow up, the loss of coming home to us on July 23rd.

the horror- grieving for the haunting way you died Dan.  Imagining often your last moments and thoughts…I sometimes think you thought, “Julia is going to be so pissed,” but mostly I think you fought and probably cried out to God.

the loss of myself.  the person i was before this.  she is gone.  maybe this is not an entirely bad thing, but still quite unsettling to not recognize yourself.

the loss of leisure- no more date nights with you, or  movies, or hanging out with friends while you watch Aurey.  My life consists of caring for Audrey, and sitting alone each night here in my room, either doing freelance work or the work of grieving- reading, writing, keening.

the loss of our past together…the memories we shared- the life we had begun to build.

the loss of the future- future children, future life experiences and growth in our marriage and family.

the loss of goodbye.  there was no preparation dan.  you said you’d call me tomorrow and the next call I got you were dead.  There were many things unresolved,  many things left unsaid.

the loss of my “other half,” I wish there was a better, less overused way to say that, but I haven’t thought of one yet.  I feel your absence- the lack of balance- I worry that I just can’t be a whole parental unit to Audrey because there is so much I don’t know.  There is also so much in life that I will miss without you- knowing what’s going on in pop culture, music, movies, sports.  I fear from now on I will know none of that.

the loss of touch.

the horror- I grieve every moment but the horror that it’s about “you” still only leaks out here and there- and still every time it does- there is a moment of sheer horror that this hazy dream I’ve been walking around in is reality and you, Dan Cho- you died.  That’s when I speak it aloud daily to try to understand it, “You died.”  There are also usually expletives involved.

This morning Audrey brought me my guitar and over the classical radio station I had playing in the kitchen, I played a song I wrote for you almost exactly eleven years ago- Thanksgiving 1999.  She also brought me all of the photo albums I’ve put in her reach and we looked through a few.  I cried seeing us so alive together at 22 and 23 in an album full of photos from our dating years.  There we are- we have no idea what lies ahead.  No idea.

Audrey danced around the couch laughing while I played that song,
“I Don’t Have the Words:”

I’m supposed to be the one who writes
the endless pages that I send you,
and I’ve been known to sum up pretty well
the thoughts behind my emotions.

but just yesterday, I didn’t have a thing to say
but I search you with my eyes as if the silence speaking words…

Chorus: I try hard to explain it, funny I don’t have the words.
I would try to explain it, funny I don’t have, baby I don’t have the words.

We’ve exchanged a lot of tender things
in smiles and stares something lingers
I call you up but I don’t say a thing,
as if you know what I’m thinking.

I say I’ll write it down,
write a song that I can sing
but I’m always getting stuck here.
By the time I reach the chorus I get lost…

What I felt then newly in love- and what I feel now- is largely invisible to the world- and largely inexpressible in human language.  People tell me they’re amazed at how strong I am, but that’s just because it’s invisible- the pain.  

Love and pain, I think,  are like invisible ink that only shows up on the parchment of the soul.


November 28, 2010


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