The Many Faces of Grief

When I was in college we had this roommate, with skin as pure as ivory soap, hair as blonde as a movies star.  Her voice, as sweet as a pinky finger dipped in red Jello mix and the “stain” she would leave lingered.

She was involved in the campus fellowship; so I quickly had an aversion to her. I understood religion but not like this; this was more than wafer melting on the tongue and crossing myself before a good looking robed man and trying to be accountable.  This was more than reconciling the good verses the bad -this was intense Jesus stuff.  I came to find out later this girl had killed someone. In the car, icy road, person crossing the street- out of nowhwere…….Like her, later in life I added up the events that mired my persona, and acted them.  Their was the dad that left, the way knew as a toddler as my mother told me “while holding you in her arms in public I would see a very tall man and you’d start shouting excitedly “Daddy!!!”

Grief was laden in my childhood, although I didn’t realize it soon enough.  It was in my daily stuff, the way I blocked the door with my outstretched hands and feet in desperation so my friend would stay, and keep playing.  The way I learned to gulp alcohol to extinguish the emotional fire inside.  Similar to my roomates response to hurt soothing but more reckless.  One day, in outpatient class-for alcohol abuse, I added up the events and realized then….the day after my brother’s funeral was my 21st birthday.   No wonder I became an alcoholic. No wonder so early on I learned to soothe the pain away with the drink.   My stepdad forever clung to that day ” they killed his baby- those Philipino people. ”  He carried hate in his heart his entire life after that day, my brother was beaten to death, his birthday became his death day. Now he still lives, my daddy, and my brother as a symbol of loss to an entire family a reminder of murder a daily reminder how it can kill you when you’re still alive.  in fact I struggle with going to see him. He wanted to die long ago, now he sits in his chair, in his diaper, blankly watching TV.  He is under the care of the nursing staff, who just happen to be, Philipino. Life comes full circle you know. You must walk through the fire yes, but only in fire retardant clothing. You need to feel the heat, but you don’t need to be burned in the process.

Be kind, be gentle, be patient, be forgiving, don’t judge. Grow a little each day.    If it hurts, find the root of the pain and dig in like you have a dandelion in your clutches, dig in, until you get all of it.  If you do, the soil beneath will be so much more receptive to planting something that blooms in that very same spot!

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