For us, who struggle through grief, hope really does float.  We quite often have to grab on to it tightly, raising our heads to the surface and taking deep breaths. It absolutely does not seem like it, but everything will be OK.  Someday.  I have to believe in that.
Have you ever met that one person that is just larger than life?  He walks into the room and the entire room changes because of it.  Things change in a good way with everyone’s attention on this unbelievable person that keeps you in a trance….waiting for the next amazing thing he will say or do.
I went to a family reunion yesterday, for family on my husband’s side.  We have Fred’s girls this week so they also got to come along.  It was so great watching them have fun and run around with other little kids in the family.  It was truly a great time.  This is the side of Chris’ family that I feel most comfortable with and feel at ease. Everyone makes a point to hug everyone else and tell them they love them, I love that.  My husband’s sister was called away during the picnic, her husband’s father passed away.  Sitting at the table with them and then in a confusion of what was going on…seeing the pain on her face.  My heart just broke.
We left for home a little while after that, packed up the girls and headed east.  Of course they were hungry and wanted “pesa” (pizza) so Grandpa found a place that sold pizza by the slice, to go.  This is where I started to fall apart inside.  My morning had been a struggle, sending off more packages from the project and feeling overwhelmed with so much to do….I was looking so forward to just relaxing.  We had a great afternoon and I pushed my grief aside constantly when those thoughts of “Fred should be standing right here” came over me.  But, as the night progressed I could not hold any of it in anymore.
My grief attacks are not like panic attacks.  They last much longer and are extremely devastating.  This particular grief attack has lasted 12 hours and I am not positive that I am out of it yet.  At this moment, it is the next morning after it started and I am sitting here with puffy eyes, a dull headache, feeling drained, and a very narrow, one way vision.  I pretty much feel as though I have been run over by a large truck.
Working yourself out of the dark hole that grief throws you in is hard work.  As I write I start to feel better, releasing what is in my mind and making way for new emotions and thoughts.  Adjustment of this life without my son is difficult, I think it is for every mother that loses a child.  I think it is for anyone that loses someone close to them.  I accept the reality of Fred being gone and I experience the pain on a daily basis.  I even find myself feeling ok with moving through life without him and adjusting to this changed world.  The periods of time between the darkness are actually a build up of what will be the next true breakdown.  Something triggers it.  I go to a place in my mind where no one can reach me.  Physically I rub my forehead, I let out heavy sighs, and I stare into space.  I don’t comb my hair.  I walk room to room.
No one ever knows how long they will live for sure.  Yesterday, on the way to the picnic, we passed an obvious fatality accident on the highway.  My sister-in-law experienced death and pain in front of me and then again on the way home, another accident.  I don’t know if I will make it through my grief, I often think I won’t and even more often I ask from a God that I am angry with (and not so sure I believe in anymore) to just take me.
I used to be described by some as that person that changed a room.  Maybe sometimes by my looks and other times by my personality.  I passed this on to my children and as they know…it can be a double-edged trait.  I dream of the person I was and how simple it was to love without pain.  I wish I could walk into a room and change it like I used to….
When you are grieving you wear a badge.  Kind of like the stigma on our foreheads for suicide…the large S.  We also wear a badge or black band around our arm to show we are pained, experienced, and deeper than any oceans on any world.  I have written about loss of self, loss of keys, loss of many things and how grief touches us at different intensities throughout our lives.  But seriously, the grief over a loss of someone so utterly important in our lives and someone who is irreplaceable is nothing to describe or compare.
I used to talk to people a lot when we owned the bar, people I didn’t know on a personal level.  It was amazing how many people claimed their head was empty, they did not think about stuff much or they were just simply simple. Someone would say this and then I would watch them “self medicate” themselves to the point of ridiculousness.  Bullshit they don’t think and bullshit their head is empty.  And there we were, standing behind the counter selling the medication of their choice and feeding them the slow, painful, dull knife that would suck the life from them.  I had to get the hell out of there.   One of the items found next to my son’s body was a bottle of vodka.  He didn’t drink, it usually made him sick and he couldn’t drink much when he did actually go out.  I found it strange that this bottle was there and stranger that not much was gone out of the bottle.   What the story behind that bottle signifies, if anything, is something I will ask myself for a long time.  When I analyze it now I come up with — “he wanted to go to sleep, feel no pain.”
Everyone tries to grab onto hope, even if you think they aren’t, if they are breathing – they are hoping.  People who die by suicide lose hope and think it is out of reach. Like the moments in my grief that I want to give everything up, hope is not an option.  I was able to grab the life line of hope this morning and pull above.  Most definitely because of Fred’s girls being here asleep in the next room…and feeling that I needed to get my shit together.  Hope looks like a sweet face at times and other times it is just a whisper in the air of “what could be”.  Either way, today I keep hoping and getting a little stronger.  I play old tapes in my head and push rewind often until something or someone pulls the plug on my thinking.  The waters remain still in my lake of misery until I plunge to the bottom without a life line.  Mostly making no splash at all, no notice to the dive.  Other times jumping full force on my belly, feeling the sting, and sinking slowly.
Today I made it back to the top.  My girls need me, my daughter needs me today, and my husband wants to come home to me.  So, I will wrap up the orange rope, the life line for Fred.  I put it away and abandon my “watch” for him.  Today I will try to live and grow my portrait of hope.  I use the knowledge of my lake, and I complete watercolors of a new picture.  A painting of me, floating on the surface, waving my brush, and hoping for the hope of everything to just be ok.