Methodically I worked through the cupboards and closets of my father’s condo as I packed up his household to move him south to live with me. As I finished each box, I labeled it and moved it to the garage to store until the moving truck arrived.
We were in the garage, sorting and stacking the boxes that were coming and those that we would give away, donate, or toss out. I spotted a large Tupperware packing tote that could be useful and headed towards it. As I bent to open it, my father spoke softly from behind me.
“Honey, those are Jerrod’s trophies and things from his room….” His voice trailed off.
I froze with the lid in my hands. Not knowing if I should turn and run or snap the lid back on without looking inside.
My emotions pulled back like ocean water receding from the shore. A silence fills the air just before the wave comes crashing onto the beach. I sensed the grief, surging up into a giant wall. It kept building as I continued to stand, unable to decide what to do. It rooted my feet to the ground yet left my mind running away in a silent scream of agony. Oh no, I thought, not again. I can’t.
It had already been a rough week, getting my dementia diseased mother ready for her move to a new care facility in Virginia. Then helping Dad go through his life’s accumulation; deciding what was important and what was no longer relevant. Now, here, stumbling inadvertently onto this container holding what was left of Jerrod, my only son who died two years before in a horrible car accident.
I bent and pulled the lid back, peering in as the tidal wave crashed over me.
On top, wedged to the side, was a small, brightly colored box. Design A Plate, it said in large white letters. “ Letting you preserve childhood memories on fine porcelain for years to come…”
The lump in my throat me prevented me from breathing. Tears blurred my vision as the masochist in me reached over and opened the plate box. A sweet child’s drawing of a Christmas tree with a star and 4 wrapped presents under it gleamed on the fine porcelain plate.
“I love Grandma and Pop.
My knees buckled, and I sank to the garage floor, holding the plate to my heart. Wasn’t I done being battered by the waves of grief?
How and when would I get over this loss? Would it ever stop hurting? I got up and walked outside to get some air, feeling the suffocation of the garage, the boxes, my father hovering with tears in his eyes. Soon, he would feel this same loss for my mother, when her time came to let go.
Grief, in its many insidious forms, infiltrated my life once again.
Death is a full partner in all life on the planet. Loss is a part of the human condition. Every living organism is born, lives and dies. Accepting this in its equality is a choice we humans struggle with. It cannot be otherwise. We must learn to deal with the emotions loss creates and design a new perspective of it. Losing yourself in the grief serves no one and does not help your growth as a spiritual being. Acceptance is the key. I knew this.
I stood outside the garage, in the evening light, clutching that plate. Taking several deep breaths, I settled my emotions and took back control of my heart, my mind, and my soul. I used the method of healing I had created and practiced to help so many clients with their losses and their grief. As always, it worked.
Glancing down once more at the sweet simple drawing my six-year-old son had left me, I blessed my life in gratitude.
“…preserving the memories for years to come….”
I knew I would be strong for my father when he needed me.