In my experience, there is a cycle to grief. Something from the trauma of the loss gets embedded in us - in our heart, our head, our emotions, maybe even our physiology. I don't know exactly how to describe it, but I have noticed over the years that grief has left an imprint on my flesh as well as my spirit. My body remembers that something monumental happened on January 9, 2003, and it dutifully reminds me each year as the cycle of life unfolds.
Ten years ago today, my father died.
Reality shifted in a way I had never experienced before. Something in the world broke, not just in him but in me. I have mended for ten years now, and much like broken bones can become stronger after they mend, there are parts of me that have matured in ways that could not have happened without that experience. But for the past week I've been depressed, exhausted, on the verge of tears, unable to focus, using entertainment to get me through the evening on the way to a restless sleep.
My body remembers. It commemorates that week in my life every year. I have thought over the years that the world should have changed more when Dad died. Perhaps it did, and I didn't realize it.
A decade is a long time.
There are times I feel like I should be over it more than I am. Other times, I'm pretty sure that I'm always supposed to have a place deep inside that misses him. Somewhere between despondency and amnesia I have found a healthy place where I miss him gently, poignantly, during the moments when a good father ought to be missed. During weeks like this one, I am reminded that the once broken do not become the never broken. The broken become the repaired. Though they heal, they carry with them the history of their losses.
On rainy days, my surgically repaired knees hurt. I'm okay with that. The rainy days remind me that what I had been feeling every day has faded - not completely, but enough to make me grateful that broken is not the same as hopeless.
On days like today, my heart hurts. I'm okay with that, too. These days reminds me that what I had been feeling every day has faded - not completely, but enough that I can recognize the gift of a father whose passing is worthy of my lingering grief.
May his memory stay embedded in me, body and soul.