As has become more and more typical, I find myself sitting down to write, and not having a clear topic on where to focus. The fact of the matter is, though I miss Megan, her death and absence is not all-consuming. Far from it, actually. Trying to spin an anecdote about my day-to-day life into something about grief or loss is exhausting sometimes, because grief and loss is not what my day-to-day life consists of.
I still have Shelby here. Her schooling and upbringing is part of my day-to-day. Going to work, paying bills, and taking care of things at home is part of my day-to-day. Sarah is officially moved in with us, but we’ll still be organizing, merging, and unpacking her things for a while. That’s part of my day-to-day.
Megan died on November 19th, 2014. A thought of her is part of my day-to-day, but to be honest, it’s a small part.
So, when it comes time to write about grief and loss, it’s often a luck-of-the-draw. There haven’t been any significant events that relate to Megan in the past few weeks. It’s a “quiet time” in the annual cycle of dates to remember. Shelby hasn’t passed any milestones for Megan to miss. Our anniversary, her birthday, her transplant date, and her brother’s death date were all months ago. The next anniversary is in November, on the day she died, two years ago.
Am I “broken” for not crawling into a pit of emotion? I hear so much about how there isn’t a plan or instruction manual for grief, and then I feel guilty when I’m not actively grieving. I might be my own harshest critic, but just the same, I can’t pretend that my current life isn’t pretty damned good.
Megan got us here, just in a roundabout way. She is the person that sat Shelby down for years, preparing her for the inevitable. She is the person that had the courage to look me straight in the eye, and tell me she wanted me to “find someone else after she died”. She made sure Shelby got a good start in school and formed healthy habits.
The best thing to do is continue down that path. It’s been my philosophy since she died. It was harder than hell, being on my own with Shelby at first. I crawled into that pit more often than not for awhile. Simply put, Megan’s death sucked, and I was a wreck. But Shelby still had to go to school, I still had to go to work, bills needed paid, and housework needed done. I had a lot of help from friends and family. Over time though, i took more of the responsibility back onto myself. I wiped the snot off of my face, thought of what Megan would do, “discussed” it in my head with her, and executed.
It’s been two years now, and practice, while not making it perfect, has made life alot easier. Grandparents aren’t visiting three to four times a week to “help” anymore. They’re visiting and picking Shelby up from school simply to spend time with her. My work is still work, but it isn’t a struggle to come into the office. I’m not being triggered left and right when I hear a song or have a passing thought about Megan.
It’s difficult to even self-trigger. That’s what makes finding a topic to write about hard, and it’s why sometimes, I wonder if I’m broken in the opposite way from many of those that have experienced a loss. I’m more concerned with making Sarah’s birthday a good one than I am with any “meaning” behind it as it relates to losing Megan. I have thoughts about how sometimes, the onset of cool weather and fall festivals is easier to appreciate WITHOUT Megan, because she isn’t there to suffer through the lung pain and fatigue that came with her disease. Immediately following that thought, I feel like a total asshole for even considering it.
I suppose, because I truly believe there is no “right” way to grieve, that I’m being hard on myself. I can’t be the only person that has dealt with a long-term illness and subsequent death, and came out on the other side relatively unscathed. I sympathize with everyone that has lost their spouse or partner, regardless of circumstances, but yet I still equate my own story with theirs. If I see someone heavily grieving for years or even decades, I take that as a sign that I’m “doing it wrong” or disrespecting Megan. Hell, even Sarah’s own father lost his wife to a long-term illness, and he grieved in a totally different (albeit somewhat unhealthy) way. I can’t pretend that I don’t compare myself to what I know of him, and see it as “not caring” about Megan’s death.
At this stage, I can only surmise that my grief is manifesting itself in confusion about, well, my grief. I’m NOT always sad. I’m not even sad that often. I miss Megan, but I’m still moving forward. There isn’t anything MORE to be sad about. What’s done is done, and I can express guilt about feeling that way, or I can truly respect Megan’s desires and be happy. I can take Shelby and Sarah to fall festivals, like Megan and I would have done. We can decorate for halloween, like Megan and I would have done. We can celebrate Sarah’s birthday just like we would have celebrated Megan’s.
And we don’t have to be sad that Megan isn’t there. Rather, we can be happy that she got to do those things in her life, and appreciate the fact that we still get to do them.