May 20th, 2013. 5:15am.
I walked out of the house on time, really 5 minutes ahead of schedule, to catch a flight to a trade show for work in Atlantic City. Standing at the back of the car, just as I lift a piece of luggage into the back, my phone rang in my hand. A simple glance told me it was not my boss or co-worker also going on the trip with me. It was my mom. “No, Mom, no.” came out of my mouth and my husband moved from where he was standing at the garage door.
For .3 seconds I thought of not answering, but I needed to let my mom give me her message. I told my husband as he helped me with another bag but I could not pause for a hug, for his sympathy. I needed to get to the airport for this trip.
The days were busy and long. I stayed focused on work, and at the end of 3 days was utterly exhausted beyond my physical and emotional bounds. The flight from Philadelphia to Raleigh, and then the drive from RDU down to my hometown found me walking into the door of my childhood home and waking my mom slumbering in her recliner at 2am.
My grandmother’s funeral and subsequent time with my family are still a blur. My eyes teared up at the sight of my sister going through her emotions at the funeral and I grabbed her, staving off my own grieving to console her. My family was already so weary from their own ordeals from the days before my grandmother’s passing. We consoled ourselves with family memories and too many pieces of the obligatory cake or pie. A couple of days later when I stood up from my grandfather’s table to leave for my flight home, the weight of the week felt almost unbearable and I recognized my reluctance to depart as my denial of my own grief.
I drove the backroads to I-40, through the lands of my ancestors, full of emotional loss, physical exhaustion and sweet memories. Arrival to my current home brought my nuclear family needs back in focus along with lots of work to be done at a new job. More time has passed but I have spent none grieving as I should.
The wall I built around the emotions of grief the last few weeks is tall, thick, well-constructed. I am an expert at building such walls. I don’t know where to begin to grieve. I try to will the tears but the fear of pain, the fear of the tears never stopping, keep them from coming at all. Someone told me that I am a strong woman. I see my inability to grieve properly as a weakness, a fault.
No one knows my inability to own my emotions is deeply seated in childhood pain and loss. I let a little bit of sorrow in and my world crashes in on me for months. The wall around my current grief is part of a superstructure I have been building all of my life. Whenever I mourn and tear down just one wall, the whole structure becomes unstable. I become unstable. I hate that feeling. I begin to lament every bad decision, every loss, every hurt, every pain my mind will not forget. I hate the overwhelmingness of it.
Just below the lump in my throat, sitting on top of my heart, is a massive structure of walls, hidden rooms, towers of secrets. One chink in the mortar, one removed stone threatens it. I do not have the strength to start the grieving. This is an advertisement for demolition needed. Large wrecking ball required.