When I was little I always knew I enjoyed writing. Like an artist that never entirely feels like what they do is work and questions why they should charge so much. Writing has never felt like work. It has only ever felt like bliss. It is only natural then that during the toughest time in my life I would turn to writing to release the cacophony of emotions inside me. I have always been able to explain myself better with words on a page than words spoken from my mouth.
The other night I sat in the living room of my parent’s house for what is likely the last time that it would be “their” house. Following that evening the stuff that made up their life was to be moved, sold, and disposed of and I realized with startling clarity why it has been so hard for the clients I have worked with over the last four years that have lost a loved one.
First of all, everywhere I look there is a memory. The time I went to an auction house with my father and he purchased the painting that now hangs in the dining room. The time my husband and father were working on the floor and a giant spider crawled out of the vent. The chair my mom would always sit on and talk to my Dad and read the paper. The table my father would sit at for hours on end and read and do Sudoku puzzles. The shag rug my mom and I purchased on a whim at Home Sense. The bar stools and coffee table that they went searching for on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The picture they brought back from up north on a vacation with both their mothers.
Memories absolutely everywhere and the need to hold onto their stuff not because you need it but because each item triggers those memories and you remember. Will you still remember without the item? Maybe yes, maybe no but letting go of those things is like letting go of a piece of them. I am a practical person and a realistic person. I know these items can’t bring my parents back but the heart doesn’t care. It simply doesn’t let you make rational decisions when you are grieving. I want to hold so tightly to each item to keep them alive in my mind for just a little while longer. When you are on the outside looking in you simply can’t fathom what these items mean to someone. I have always had compassion for all my clients but I never truly understood. Not until now.
Some may tell you differently but for myself, it is the quiet of the night that is the hardest. The day is busy with work, kids, going here, going there and the daily things that need to get done no matter what the situation. It is when the house is still and my husband has peacefully passed on to dreamland that I find myself awake, the ticking of the clock a soft sound in the background. There is a gnawing inside your heart and I am here to tell you that heart ache is not simply a term. It does, in fact, feel like your heart aches. The only lessening of the heart ache is time. Each day that passes. A wise lady I know told me you can’t go around the pain you have to go through it. The truth has never been more difficult.
The other day I saw a blue heron. The blue heron is a beautiful bird that has a large body and two very skinny legs and yet it can stand and soar across the sky. I am told it symbolizes standing on your own two feet. I hope in time I can feel that strength and that I can be standing and soaring just like the blue heron does. But for now, here I sit a collection of memories, each one wearing down my mind at a late hour of the night.