Ah, Sleep, I miss you. We used to get along so well together. I would turn on the fan and turn off the lights, and you would envelope me in your arms, warm and comforting, and transport me off to peaceful oblivion. But now, like lovers who are no longer in love, your visits to my bed are becoming increasingly rare, and when you do come, our lovemaking is not long and deep, but quick, fleeting, and distracted by strange dreams.
If you actually were a lover, I would have ejected you from my bed already; if you were a human lover, our relationship would clearly be over. But unlike a human lover, I actually can’t live without you.
So please come back, Sleep. I miss you. I need you.
[tag]Grief[/tag], it’s a strange thing. Like a cancer, it can rage through your body unchecked, and then be put into remission for a time, and you think you’re okay, perhaps even cured, though scarred by the experience. And life goes on.
But then it creeps up from inside you again. It wells up from some unknown place, and metastasizes through your being, and you realize that no, there is no quick cure. There is no biopsy followed by a quick surgery. No, this is going to be a long and difficult fight. The historical survival rate may be in your favor, but how long the malady lingers remains to be seen.
After we buried my father on December 23, I was in a mental holding pattern, of sorts. Perhaps it was shell shock. It all happened rather fast. From the time I found out that my father was in the hospital to the time he was in the ground was only two weeks. After it was all over – heh, apparently it’s only just begun – I was surprised at how well I felt, relatively speaking. I was hurting, but I was functioning. Life was going on as before. And I slept.
When my mother died, I literally wallowed in despair. It felt like I was hanging at the edge of a precipice over a black pit of sorrow, and that it was only a matter of time until I lost my grip. More than once I feared for my sanity, the grief was so overwhelming; at the time I consciously decided that some part of us must persist after death in some matter. Believing in this was the only way I could deal with the grief of my mother’s death and not go insane with sorrow; I couldn’t accept the fact that she was just … gone. Forever.
It took months, really more than a year, I suppose, before I put it behind me, at least enough to get on with the business of life and actually find some joy in it. And there were so many sleepless nights. I remember more than once after she died that surely I would never sleep again.
In that week or so following Dad’s burial, I kept waiting for the overwhelming despair to set in. I was waiting to teeter on the brink of madness and despair … and yet I never did. I marveled at myself, and chalked it up to having been through it before. I was amazed every time I woke up and realized that I had slept through the night. I was better equipped to deal with it, I reasoned, having been through it before; I had the tools in my psychological tool box to deal with it all.
But in retrospect, I think I was in a fugue. Between Dad’s [tag]death[/tag], turning 40, the holidays, squabbling siblings, and the accompanying ghost of my mother – like Dad, she went into the hospital shortly before Christmas, but lingered until mid January (and now I’ll have two Christmas ghosts to deal with in the future) – I think some sort of psychological failsafe switch kicked in. My subconscious was like: “Um … yeah … we’re not gonna take this on right now. Nope. Not gonna do it; not even gonna try. We’re just gonna kick back, drink some Guinness – maybe get into the vino, even; eat some pizza, eat some Thai, play some video games, read a book – and deal with all this shit later, mmmkay?” Which is actually just what I did.
But now that the holidays are over, and life returns to the mundane everyday concerns of work, groceries, bills, broken toilets and whatnot, and there is no more avoiding the sad business of settling my father’s estate, grief has come again. I don’t feel like I’m hanging on the brink of despair and madness this time, but I can see it on the other side of the fence bordering the Grim Reaper’s parking lot (boy, I’m just full of metaphors and similes this morning, aren’t I?).
And it’s hard to find the motivation to deal with the business of everyday life, because when I’m so close to that pit I realize that none of it really matters. I admit I find it hard to give a tinker’s damn about my daily copy deadline, or getting paperwork signed, or fixing the handle on the toilet, or figuring out what we’re going to do with my father’s boat when all I can really think about is that he’s dead, he’s gone, and I’ll never be able to talk with him again. I’ll never venture out on the water with him on that boat. That the two constants in my life, my parents, are now both dead and buried, and I’ve got 30 years left, 40 at the outside, give or take a few – if my luck holds out – before I’m daisy-root sniffing myself – that’s one of many colorful expressions my father taught me – so why the hell am I wasting precious time on things that I don’t really care about? Why does anyone?
As Dad himself used to say, if it won’t matter a hundred years from now, it probably doesn’t matter that much right now, does it?
Of course, this begs the question that has always plagued me as an adult – and only seems to get worse as I get older — as to why I never seem to care about the things that everyone else cares about? And what do I care about?
And when, for fucks damn sake, will I sleep more than a few hours in a stretch again?
Aw hell, Dad.
Grief, it’s a strange thing.
Well, I should probably wrap this up, and get to work. … yeah …