As I stare into the roaring fire, I realize at some point it turned dark outside. Yet, when I started my day at 3am, it was dark then too. My other senses then kick in, and I realize how quiet our 100 year old farm house that my father was so proud of was. There is no sound of wheels on the hardwood floors, no murmurs of faint wheelchair motors, and no high-pitched laughing squeals coming from the man in the chair. There are no more “Emmas”, no more I love yous, and no more dumb dad jokes that I secretly loved even though I would roll my eyes.
The hundreds of likes, comments, messages, food gifts, and condolences pour in. It all weighs so heavy, and I return to the empty sound around me.
No one tells you what the dying process is like. No one talks about the agonizing weeks of watching the one you love most become skin and bones, stop eating, stop drinking, and eventually being unresponsive and barely breathing. No one discusses the grief you process while they are still alive, yet barely hanging on. No one discusses the switch from “Please don’t go” to “Please, let go, it is okay to let go. We will be okay”. No one discusses the “I want you back” pain that surges through your entire body when they finally pass. No one discusses the quiet sound of your own mind and your own grief hours after it has happened.
Death is such a touchy, almost sacred subject. We as humans are conditioned to just respond to news with “I’m so sorry for your loss, they are not suffering anymore” followed by check ups with “Are you ok? How are you doing?” and we are so conditioned to respond with a simple “I’m doing fine” or a “Hanging in there”. Why?
Why are we as complex, emotional human beings, so afraid of showing empathy and real emotion to each other in times of deep need? So much tragedy happens in the world around us, as well as in our lives every single day, and yet we are conditioned to move through it quietly and peacefully.
What we experience in life will never be easy, and we all share so much more in common than we realize with this. Losing parents, losing loved ones, failing, succeeding, wishing-all complex emotions that we all experience. By allowing ourselves to feel them, express them, and share them with one another- we can create a profound movement of empathy and compassion surrounding life’s woes.
I encourage you to take a step back this evening, and allow yourself to feel what you need to feel. Embrace it, almost as much as you need to embrace those around you. Love is a complex, difficult, yet beautiful thing. Let us love as we grieve.
// To my fathers readers, I thank you. The community of Wheelchairjunkie and powerchair diaries was something so unbelievably special to my father. Immercing me in a community of empowerment, empathy, and connection was something my father wanted everyone to experience through his community on wheelchairjunkie and through his writings. Many feel his work was a safe haven for the disability community, but in reality, was a haven for himself. Words will never be able to describe the light and love you all have given my father throughout these last 18 years. From the bottom of my heart, thank you wheelchairjunkies.
If you wish to continue reading the work of the smiths, I invite you to follow my own blog. http://www.transitionalwritings.wordpress.com