That day I was dropped off

Tonight’s grief group video included talk of stuff being like a college, or dorm life and the complexities and such; other than the “dorm” part, doesn’t really matter to this post.

But I was reminded of that day, back in late August 1999, when Dad and Mom dropped me off for college. They’d been into the dorm with me and all; I can’t remember but I THINK Dad insisted on our getting lunch or something somewhere. But then, I was dropped off.

He (and Mom) parted ways with me…I was off onto this new journey, and it was a new thing, a new start, a new chapter, new experience…I had to find my way on my own. Without them.

And I know in some ways, here we are again, these last nearly 15 months.

I’ve shared in the past that quote from DRAGONLANCE: “We raise our children to leave us.”

And so that day it began…they’d raised me. To leave them.

It’s been about 8 days since my last post, and I feel like that one was a doozy. For ME. It’s sat with me.

We come toward the end of this cycle of the grief group. Tonight was Week 11. Of 13.

We had someone new to the group tonight…she was able to catch me on my way in and ‘follow’ me; and while I’m NOT a “people person” or “leader” or any of that kinda stuff; tried to take the example of others, and point out the group facilitator, as well as welcome her to the table I was sitting at and such; ‘officially’ introduce myself, etc.

Part of me is NOT even sure why I’m sharing that, really. Week 11–of 13–of my second cycle through. Week 24 overall. 28 if you count the four “off weeks” between cycles. It’s possible that other than the facilitator, I’m the only other one that’s been there every week of these 24. Even the last several weeks when I’ve been close to saying **** it and not going.

But it was also brought up tonight that one is NOT limited to one cycle–one is welcome at any or all.

For ME…this has been “structure” in my life. It’s been “that thing” that I do Monday nights. I may “dread” Mondays as Sunday wanes beyond noonish…but toward the end of the day; after work; there’s something to DO; someplace to GO; others to BE WITH; along the road of this journey none of us ASKED to be ON.

Leaving the people aside: the videos provide more insight each time; catching new stuff, or something resonates differently, or whatever. There was mention of…what was the quote? Something about being ready for the information or insight or whatever. Thinking on something that’s said, and “missing” the next few things said; so you pick up a different thing that you could almost swear you hadn’t seen/heard, even when you know that you watched the last time, too.

But then there IS the people. Different people == different dynamics. A different group; different group dynamics. Different thoughts, interactions, insights, stories, etc. While there are 3 others “from last time,” on the whole the group is a different mix. And while those first couple weeks ESPECIALLY I felt like some imposter, or outsider, or intruder, or whatever…THIS group has come to feel “normal” as well, the way the last one did.

I do think I’ll be signing up for the next cycle. Again, for the structure. For something consistent (even in the periodic inconsistency of the group as a whole). Because even this time through, I’m finding new bits, and feeling like I’m…well, FEELING stuff a bit more than the first time. And as mentioned above, it’s like last Sunday’s post…maybe I’m finally making some progress.

Tonight’s topic also was on not having it be one’s IDENTITY.

I AM GRIEVING and processing and adjusting and building whatever a “new normal” will ultimately be.

I AM NOT “The Griever.”

As I’ve mentioned before (at least on Facebook) in marking the weeks; the Wednesday evenings into Thursday; each week for these past 63 (and this Wednesday will be 64) weeks…it may seem repetitive; maybe folks are seeing it (from the OUTSIDE, and not being ME) as broken record or stuck…but it’s me processing. I hardly wanna use the word “celebrate” but if one would say a person should “celebrate” the “little victories” or whatever, then maybe it’s that. It’s marking another week gone by that I am still here. That I have made it to/through.

I still have coworkers who I’m pretty certain have no idea that I’m grieving; that I’ve lost my Dad. Just this past weekend, a friend who I *have* interacted with on Facebook asked about Dad; innocently not even knowing he’s gone. Whatever algorithms, broken records, repetition, etc…this isn’t my IDENTITY.

It’s a significant, life-altering event; my life really IS in a cleaved state. There’s the before…and there’s the SINCE.

But here I am, somehow still here, still going, and presumably, somehow, some way, growing, and perhaps I’ll one day see a “WHY” to it, or some…I don’t know. “Purpose?”

Romans 8:28 reads “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Job 14:5 reads “A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.”

and Psalm 139:16 says “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Plenty more to ponder. But I’m rambling, have not had dinner, have a dog to feed (even if I don’t feed myself) and the hour grows later even as I have work creeping up in barely 11 more hours.

Another week

A few years back, a friend introduced me to a book, A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. I remember really liking it…though I don’t recall at the moment if I actually READ it, or listened to an audiobook of it. I’d started watching a movie version of it at one point and didn’t get into it the same way.

Well, now there’s a new movie–A Man Called Otto. And it hit me harder than I ever expected. Or harder than I would have expected, until recently, as so many things are hitting harder.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a movie just really hit the way this one did. Suffice it to say that I readily recommend seeing it.

The other day, another friend posted a video link to a song How Do I Say Goodbye? by Dean Lewis. It’s got a couple lines that REALLY struck me…all the more when put with a photo of Dad and me from early in my Freshman year at BG.

“How do I say goodbye to someone who’s been with me for my whole damn life? You gave me my name and the color of your eyes. I see your face when I look at mine…”

At the grief group I’ve been attending…an interesting question came up last Monday. On the matter of WHEN to go through and get rid of someone’s “things.” WHY do we have to?!?

And it’s like “society” just tells us–wants us–to do that. Like it’s just simply something you DO, because that’s what everyone ELSE does. And maybe for some, it’s not a matter of choice–someone passes suddenly, and their apartment has to be cleared out by the end of the month or something. But other times…there’s not necessarily any real REASON to, except to do it for the sake of doing it.

No, the person’s not coming back; but why should one be or feel OBLIGATED to clear out their stuff if your situation doesn’t NECESSITATE it? Someone else shared that when they were cleaning out their parents’ old house–with siblings–it turned out that their Mom had kept everything of their Dad’s.

And I’m not talking about obvious stuff like literal TRASH, foodstuff, unsanitary stuff. But if your loved one had a bookcase–do you HAVE TO clear it/get rid of it? Or if you’ve already been living there and don’t NEED the “closet space,” do you NEED to clear it out? If you’re not gonna lose the house, don’t need to take on a roommate or tenant, where’s the HARM in leaving a room mostly as it was?

Everyone grieves differently. Everyone processes differently. There’s no time-table or one-size-fits-all for stuff. Etc.

But then, there are other factors; case-by-case and all that. Are you ever gonna wear their wardrobe of clothes? Are they still in good condition, where you could donate them for someone else to benefit from them? You may not be REQUIRED to clear stuff out, but maybe it could be a way, one last way for that person’s efforts to help someone else.

I went to church this morning. First time attending this one. I’ve driven past it countless times over the past 7+ years. Back in 2016 I spent a fair amount of time in their parking lot–there was a “Poke-Stop” in Pokemon Go. They even mounted a birdhouse-sized pokeball to “mark the spot.” And then last year, turned out that they host a GriefShare group. The one I’ve been attending. I’d considered checking out their Sunday service for awhile, but I have a laundry list of “issues” with churches in general, that I’m not getting into right here/now.

But having had plenty of time to contemplate it, having been in the building a number of times for GriefShare; for the Surviving the Holidays thing; and just having gotten a gradual sense of the place, it made it much easier for ME; not like I was walking into some strange new building and being overwhelmed and clueless on the layout and where to go and such.

Still a bit of a “gauntlet” on the way in of greeters…but I’d timed it so there wasn’t much time, so I did not feel bad in “keeping on going” and not trying to stop for conversation or such.

And then despite finding myself a seat in the back row and figuring to be there and then quietly slip out after; the GriefShare facilitator spotted me, welcomed me, invited me to sit with her and her husband, introduced me to a couple other people, pointed out a couple others, and generally…made me feel like I mattered? That I was not some interloper or intruder.

There also was no awkward “take a moment and greet those (strangers you’ve never seen before and will never see again) sitting around you this morning (and make smalltalk)” (I’m an introvert and generally do not appreciate such situations being foisted upon me).

ALSO no awkward “passing the plate” thing. They seem to have “dropboxes” around for offerings, if you so choose–but as far as I heard, not even an announcement or request TO use them.

Not sure what all the coming week holds. But I suppose as always, a day at a time. Though it’s still Sunday, I think part of me’s already “ready for the (next) weekend.”

C’est la vie and all that.