Grief is an interesting beast, isn’t it? It comes and goes in waves, sometimes disappearing completely for awhile, then roaring back in with a vengeance.
I’ve written about all sorts of different types of grief on this blog, but mostly I’ve written about the loss of my sister-in-law. Next month marks 5 years since she died, and I can honestly go days – and probably even weeks – without thinking about her now. Life gets busy, and she’s gone. Out of sight, out of mind. Then little things happen that bring her back to the forefront of my mind again, and it almost feels like yesterday that she left us.
Last week at work, a patient came in whom I haven’t seen in years. She mentioned that she was friends with my SIL before she died, and she started reminiscing about her. It caught me so off guard that I started crying at my desk in front of the new employee I was training. I realized that I miss hearing random stories about her. People eventually quit talking about you after you die.
Yesterday I sat down on the couch to do some work on my laptop, and when I turned on the TV, I realized that it was the Red Carpet for the Oscars. For the four years that my SIL lived down the street from me, we always watched the Red Carpet together. She was a total fashionista who loved to discuss the outfit choices of the rich & famous. She’d have it planned out weeks in advance, and we’d get together and spend hours on the couch, vegging on hours of red carpet coverage and the finally the awards show. The last year we watched together was March 2, 2014…just 13 days before she died. It’s one of the last things we did together.
Last night, when I was sitting by myself looking at all of the beautiful people on television, I completely freaking lost it. I felt so much guilt that I hadn’t said more…done more…when I knew that she had an issue. When she came over that night in 2014, she was drunk when she arrived and plastered by the time she left. Harvey was 6 weeks old, and I just didn’t have the energy to confront her about it, so I just let it be. I will always regret that.
When I started thinking about that last night, huge, ugly sobs suddenly wracked my body, and I was completely incapable of stopping them. I heard the kids whispering about me in the other room, and even then I couldn’t stop crying. They eventually crept in and asked if I was alright, and I was able to choke out that I was okay – I just missed their Auntie Jaime. Stella, in all of her 7 year old wisdom, reminded me that I had made a photo album about her and the kids, and she suggested we look at it together. My sweet, sweet kids snuggled up to me on the couch, and we slowly flipped through the pages of Jaime’s life as an Auntie, with me trying to remember the good times, not the bad.
While we were looking at the album, my husband and littler brother walked in from having a beer down the street. I had texted Charlie and told him I was having a bad night, and he suggested to my brother that it would be good for me to see him. When they walked in, I completely lost it again. I was so grateful that my little brother now lives one block away and can come over any time I need him, and I was so sad that my husband’s little sister will never be able to do that again. So much joy and grief, all intertwined. After putting the kids to bed, the three of us sat up talking for hours, looking through the old photo albums I had made over the years. Some people in those albums are now gone (my grandparents, my aunt, Jaime, etc), but it felt good to reminisce and laugh about old times. It was exactly the kind of ending I needed to a sad night. <3