The very second a love one passes away a pilgrimage begins, a journey, a path, a path known as grief. This is a path of solitude, because no two people grieve the same therefore no path can be shared. This path is yours alone and the direction is yours to choose, but know this, it will fight you, it will beat you, and it will use all of its power to take over of the range of emotions you never knew existed. This path will have its mountain tops but, the majority of the journey will be traveled in the deepest, darkest parts of the valley. There may be days when two paths, by chance, may cross. At this uncommon intersection you take the opportunity to tell your story of loss and grief to someone who, in some unimaginable way, understand the steps you take every day. Steps, that some days seem to take every ounce of energy just to put one foot in front of the other. The opportunity to unload your heart and mind of grief and any regret you have carried thus far. A chance thru human interaction to try and fill that hole that now lives in your heart. A chance to try and help another that is being pulled into the mire of depression or even worse, self-destruction. This path is not a dead end, it does not have a destination, it is an infinite passage of grief. This path does have its sparkles, its glimmers of light in the darkness. These lights are our family, they seem to shine the brightest when we are at our lowest. Although they cannot share this path with us, they cannot shoulder the same grief we bare. They are there with uplifting rays of support, and a love that breaks the shackles that bind our heart, soul and mind from every thinking we will live the life we once did.
Every holiday, every birthday, every special occasion, the path leads in the same direction, your undisturbed footprints are visible from the year before, because like I said, this path is your alone. The same signs are unmistakable every year. Signs put up by people that are unaware of the path being traveled. Signs that are in no way intended to hurt or offend but never the less they are always there. These signs illuminate the path like the ever-glowing neon gas that ignite the streets of Vegas. Signs such as, “I missed you so much”, “So glad we got to see everyone”, “I am so glad we were all able to get together.” “I can’t wait until you get here.” These signs burn through the retina of your eyes and take a direct path to that hole that had healed minutely since the last observance. They begin to eat away at the healing scare tissue to keep that hole, like the path, infinite. When someone makes that statement that ignites the penetrating neon gas, I have to remember that they are traveling a different path. Everyone has the right to miss someone, no matter the path. My son is a young man now living on his own and walking his own path, and I miss him. My wife has three grown children and a grandchild that live in different parts of the country, she misses them. The difference, we can take a path to my son today, we can take a path to my wife’s children today and that feeling of missing that person is subsided for a while. Love your children no matter their age. Miss your loves one no matter the distance. Take the time, make the sacrifice, put forth the effort because you never know when you will have to take that first step on your path.
There will be days on this path when all you want to do is forget. Your brain will be spinning out of control with memories you so badly want to let go. You will want to forget everything about the that day, that moment, the time leading up to when your loved one passed away. You will want to forget the pain, the injury, the agony, the disease, whatever the form of death, that took the life, of the one you loved and care for so dearly. The memories of this day will tear through your brain like a tornado ripping apart your ability to separate the sanity of it all. Time is the one thing the path provides for you, as we all know there is no time limit on grief. Time to realize you do want to forget the why but not the who. No matter the path, the storm, the depth of the valley the memory of the who will always be there. On my personal path I have had to learn to separate the why from the who. I have had to put all of the why in a file and desperately try to delete it while keeping the who alive in my mind’s eye. Time can also be your worst enemy on the path. With every passing moment and every step, time starts to erase the sounds, the sound of laughter, a voice that once filled a room, singing that was never quite in tune. As hard as you try to keep it, the path and time are taking it away. On my personal path time has all but taken the sounds, but the visions are still very clear. I hold dearly to my memories and fight the path every day to keep them. I know that there may come a day when the path and time will win, by taking the last fleeing memories I have left. But there is one place that time and this God forsaken path will never touch, my heart. My heart will always be filled with the love and memories of the one I walk this path for.
I know my path will continue, I know the journey I have before me, I know the love and support I have from my family will sustain me. I also know that one day my path will turn and I will finally see the end, I will see the light that will guide me through the last steps of this grief odyssey. I will see the one thing that has cause me to keep the faith as I climbed every mountain and stumbled through every valley, Lindsay.