In Times of Loss

Husband Dearest was my very first date. We went to our High School Junior Homecoming dance together and we both seemed to like how that went – put him in the basket, please, I’ll take him – and what the heck, let’s giftwrap.

Husband Dearest’s immediate and extended family welcomed me from the get go; they welcomed me even more so once they figured out I wasn’t going anywhere. Holidays, Birthday cards (even the kind with money from the grandparents), family events, his parents, sister, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins. Husband Dearest has an amazing wealth of family on both sides. They all inspire the love and loyalty of those around them, and they have definitively held mine for many years.

I’ve been with Husband Dearest almost as long as I’ve been without him, and he’s seen me through a series of familial losses that seemed unending. When we heard that Husband Dearest’s cousin, 22, passed away tragically and unexpectedly last week, it was like a rug slipped out from under us, but there wasn’t any ground underneath it.

The call came, the news delivered and unreality set in. You mourn his loss somewhat at a distance – understanding logically that he was gone, but again not understanding because the news is too big and almost like a warped practical joke. It’s not real – right?

Our cousin’s viewing and funeral were unlike any other I have ever seen. It was awe-inspiring the number of people who came to pay their respects to the family. The line of people attending the viewing almost circled the building and stayed that way for hours. I have never seen flowers like the ones in that room, neither in number, nor size nor thoughtfulness. We all read each card, thankful for its message. The graveside service and following celebration of life was similarly attended and extremely poignant.

Slideshows recapped our cousin’s life and my heart hurt so badly for the family, in the old way. I was not expecting how it would again affect me as someone soon to be a mother herself. I reel from the loss I can only imagine his parents must feel. His grandparents, his sisters – I want to hold them all in my lap, wrap them in my arms, and rock until the hurt goes away. I want to keep away the well-wishers that may accidently say something hurtful. Keep them safe from the supporters bearing germs – a cold on top of it all could just be the final straw.

I want to do something for them now. Now that the painful but busy part of losing someone is winding down. When the others go home, back to work – away. It’s a painful silence. You find yourself feeling like the old man on the mountain, sitting mutely and looking down at the activity around you. It takes a lot of effort for people to climb the peak and part the clouds enough to reach you in your thoughts. Even more effort sometimes for you to desire to reach beyond the cloud layer yourself to seek interaction.

I want them all to know that Husband Dearest and I are here for what’s needed, whether that’s to be a distraction or to sit together in silence. When Baby Boy’s here, I’m sure that will help, but to think of Baby Boy and the new start he represents, in the same breath as we mourn this loss, seems a cosmic injustice.

Lady Justice, the scales shouldn’t work this way.

I want our family to know that all they’re going through is ok. I remember feeling terrible guilt during the times I would forget – forget that someone is gone, or to laugh. Laughing felt sacrilegious and wrong, and it took a long while to realize it shouldn’t be cause for guilt.

It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.

It’s nature’s way of leading you through. It’s ok to reach out to someone and say – I need to get out and do – anything. It’s ok to trust your doctor’s advice and keep your body and mind well as the journey continues. It’s ok to be angry at the person who left, at the situation you’re in. This is normal.

It’s normal and it sucks.

Family, we love you and we’re here.