Do you remember when you were told to clean your room? Your solution was to shove everything in the closet and then slam the door fast before everything came tumbling back out (it’s funny how, as adults, we do that same thing). It works. Until you need something in the closet. You gently ease the door open a crack. Once you see you can open it a bit without everything falling out, you get braver and open the door a little wider. A small stuffed rabbit bounces out the door. That’s not too bad. It’s soft. Open the door a bit more. A toy fire truck falls from its spot above the jigsaw puzzle box, ricochets off the box, and narrowly misses your elbow. Without warning, a random coloring book falls on top of your head. That one kind of hurt. While you’re rubbing your head, another stuffed toy bounces from the shelf to the jigsaw puzzle box. You desperately reach out a hand to grab it, miss it, and it lands on the closet floor. The problem is now the jigsaw puzzle box is perilously close to the edge of the shelf, just out of your reach. You try to push it back with the tip of your finger and that’s all it takes. It comes crashing down like an out-of-control snowball, jigsaw puzzle pieces flying everywhere, hitting other toys, and causing an avalanche from which there is no escape. Pretty soon, you’re in a heap at the bottom of the closet, buried in a mound of toys, stuffed animals, and books. It’s an unfixable mess and it’s silly, but you start feeling the crocodile tears falling down your cheeks.
What was the first stuffed animal that fell? An event back in May that started the avalanche of unresolved memories from the past couple of years of grieving. I had been constantly shoving things in that proverbial closet over the last couple of years, not realizing how full it was getting. At the end of May, when the closet was unintentionally opened, the avalanche began.
Fast forward to December. This is the first year since Bryan’s death that I haven’t felt like decorating. At all. I had toyed with the idea of buying a real tree this year, but the thought of putting lights on it, dragging the tree decorations out of the closet and putting them on just made me physically tired. So I didn’t do it. The Christmas decorations are still in the closet. I never got a tree. However, I finally broke down and set up my Advent candles. I got a Christmas wreath for the door. Outside of that, the only way you can tell it’s Christmas in my home is if you see me drinking out of my Christmas coffee mug.
Grief is just messy. It has no timeline. It comes and goes as it pleases, like a Cousin Eddie, complete with an RV full of shit. The problem is grief comes mixed in with all the other stuff going on in my world. I feel like I could halfway deal with it if I didn’t have other worries on my plate, but then again, that’s just life.
The nice part, though, is I know the things that bring me peace. In the stillness of the early morning, I can listen to the quietness of the city just starting to wake up. I can come home from work and leisurely cook dinner– it’s my zen. I can turn my chill music on and crochet. In the late evenings, I can sit on my balcony and listen as the city slows down, but never stops. I can heal. It just takes time and my willingness to trust the process.