So it is November.
The leaves are already less bright and more forlorn- speaking of the coming winter.
Your death has hit me so much harder the past few days. I’ve cried loudly like in giving birth…the way I did in those very early days. Now I cry with less physical shock and mental numbness- more sorrow- more weariness, and more prayerfulness.
And yet still- it feels like this might all just be a long, long nightmare. I’ve had dreams many times that felt like “epic” dreams- that went on and on for years even- and when I woke up, I could just remember bits and pieces. I am hoping when I die, this pain- not your death- will feel like that in comparison to the consciousness I will have then- like small little broken pieces of pain that I can’t fully recall.
I know I need to address the anger soon.
I’ve just reread a lengthy letter written to “Audrey” by the man you were swimming with on the day you died. To say I am angry with him is not the proper wording because I am not. From the moment I received the phone call and heard, “He was swimming with — (insert man’s name),” my heart sank. I had casually asked you to stay away from him. “Just stay away from him then,” after hearing stories from you.
I can not place the full weight of your death on any one human being and it would be cruel and harsh to do so. Yet, I also cannot deny that the circumstances and the person were so instrumental in creating that “perfect storm” that lead to your death on that particular day in that particular manner.
I’ve avoided blaming him primarily because it does me no good- it doesn’t bring you back- and as writer Anne Lammott says (I think it’s her quote), “Bitterness is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.”
What good is it for me to be made sick from bitterness towards a person I will never see, while he goes on living his life with joy and fullness? This is not what you would want for me Dan. Yet, I also know you would understand my grief and questioning. It would be stranger if I didn’t ask how the hell this happened.
And yet, I see now, that by pushing aside the feeling, what I get is just that- bitterness. So I’ve got to get it out. I worry about hurting or damaging this person or any other’s feelings lest he should ever come across these words- but my counselor tells me- “Well, what about you though?” So, she advises me to do so in such a way that would not bring guilt on me, but allow me at the same time to express what I have felt for so long now.
Realizing that I have an audience here as this is a public blog, I write with some restraint- despite what people tell me about my honesty and rawness. But because I write primarily for myself here and so that I can heal thoroughly for my daughter’s sake- I will lift those restraints for a bit.
Still- I think I will phrase it in “Whys?”, that very popular word that we ask when tragedy befalls us. It will help me to avoid direct accusation and still, allow me to feel what needs to be felt and recognized as valid feelings in this situation.
This will be difficult.
But the leaves are falling- and you are gone. And I must go on too- I must work through it all- even the most painful parts. I think of the strong-smelling antiseptic my elementary school nurse- militant- all in white with her graying hair in a bun, would ruthlessly pour on my scraped knees to prevent infection. It bubbled and burned. How it stung.
Now I will pour it on.