Thursday, March 29, 2012

Heartbreak Hotel

Grieving isn't a process. It doesn't have expiry dates, it doesn't have stages. Sure, the shock, almost-physical pain, numbness, unfamiliarity, absence becomes less striking with time. But there are other things that don't really go away. And there are some things that you don't want to go away-such as memory, routine. You play the same TV shows, you keep bringing up the person's name in conversation as if they still exist on this human plane and still enjoy the same movies and say the same inappropriate things in public and are still unabashedly vocal about their opinions on the Indian cricket team and certain cricketers in particular. As if they still exist in this man-made world with its man-made laws and institutions and games and needs and wants.

My father would have loved the article on Mariachi music that I just read in this month's Reader's Digest. I get that familiar ache over my left eyebrow that I've gotten used to in the past few months-the sign of tears about to fall. I was so used to reading him tidbits of things over the past few months-there, I'm still stuck in the six month time frame of his illness when in fact it ended over three months ago. He's out of it. But I still dream about trying to get him better. In my dreams, he's sick and I have hope that he will get better, that I somehow can make him get better. But when I wake up, he's gone and he is better. I don't know which is better.

Heartbreak isn't for lovers alone. Heartbreak is something I confused disappointment with. Heartbreak is when your emotional heart truly breaks, melts, rips, burns, what have you. It's when you know that a situation is irreversible and it hurts in the worst way-knowing that you have to live the rest of your god knows-how long life with regret, guilt, a fading memory and worst of all, the missingness. And it's strange because you welcome the feeling. It's proof that there is something there and not emptiness. You don't really want the feeling to be gone because what does a feeling weigh against this gigantic, huge void? A feeling's just a feeling. Whereas a person who was part of your life, such a major part of your life, almost your life itself is no longer there, can no longer see and hear and read the same things you do. The feeling about that reality is like an unpretty feather on top of a heavy iron-wrought ball of lead.

It gets better. What is 'it'? It is how you cope. How you deal. That does get better. And you think about the happy things. How much better it really could be out there. How we're all going to be 'out there' sooner or later. And until then, we just live it like we're supposed to.

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