Sunday, August 16, 2009

92 Degrees of Grief

During a heat wave a few summers ago, the kids and I flew into Sacramento en route to my grandmother's house in Northern California. I worried about the difference between San Diego and our destination's heat factor. We left Lindbergh Field's scorching 92 degree heat and traded it for Sacramento's 102. I remember thinking this was the establishment of a new baglady life axiom: it's all the same over 92 degrees.

This past week marked the birth and death of my little brother, Jonathan. The anniversary of his death, a day I hope to mark less - in favor of his birthday - with every year that passes, felt as equally bad as last year. It was more than just a day - I remembered each moment as it had unfolded in 2007. I'm not terribly great at math or time zones, so my tears were somewhat lessened by teasing myself I was likely crying off schedule. It was still painful to think of the time of his approximate death (again given time changes for Lagos) coming home from dinner. The world around me was wonderful: La Jolla, healthy kids, a wonderful guy who took me to a chick restaurant and played Cake to cheer me up. My reaction was more appropriate to watching a war zone. I wanted to scream and draw attention to the scene unfolding... but my adult, composed self remembered it was two years ago, far from this moment.

A friend going through similar grief, but six months newer than me, asked if the second year was easier than the first. My immediate answer was that it's not. Comparing the two years is no different, but I know it must be in some small measure. It's just that it's more like the difference between 92 and 102 degrees. I'm also convinced that the key to healing is to look outward; looking inward and experiencing pain won't bring Jon back. Time for my next project to honor you, Jon! Here's hoping 2010 will feel closer to 82.

1 comment:

Valerie said...

The old adage that "time heals all wounds" is bullshit. Grief does soften somewhat over time, become more bearable, but loss cuts holes in our heart that don't re-fill. Your comment about the temperature being slightly lower but still miserable is apt. But in my experience, too, after a few years grief goes from howlingly painful, something that screams and tears at you, to something familiar, something you almost embrace and hold to yourself. I'm not explaining it well, but it doesn't go away, but over time becomes something easier to carry.

Of course, your mileage may vary -- we're all different people with different losses.

Hang in there and keep those memories bright...