I just got home from an annual Holiday party to which my boyfriend attended, meeting coworkers for the first time. Driving home one said coworker sent a text of her approval of one said boyfriend and I reflected on the dinner. My thought process led me to last year’s same Holiday party, same setting, sans any sort of boyfriend-ish relationship. Which caused me to push further back in my mind to two Holiday parties ago.
Daniel was with me. I realized that just tonight I had sat at the exact same spot and chair as I had two years ago. Daniel was on my left, where new boyfriend had been just this evening.
I could not immediately comprehend that Daniel had been gone for almost two years. I thought about this on my drive home and then it occurred to me that I could not comprehend this particular expansion of time because for the first year, I was simply trying to survive. Survive through a grieving process and not go insane. And not to be irrational. And not to wish myself gone too. And maintain order. And be a single mom. A good single mom. And not let that kid feel she was missing anything- especially not a dad. And trying to be that dad too. And doing laundry. And feeding myself, cause Daniel loved food and he couldn’t eat food anymore,so neither did I. And do the dishes. And learn to live a routine that did not include my best friend nor the future we had laid out.
And then there was this year. The year where I tried to rebuild myself. The year that through trying to rebuild myself I discovered what it was like to endure pure panic. Attacks that would grip hold of me and refuse to release itself until days later. The year that I had to medicate myself because I was now fully, not partially, but FULLY aware of everyone’s mortality that I know to exist. I explored ways to face tragedy and to speak about my loss so that it did not fester inside of me. I tried to find new hobbies new friends new projects just newness that did not have anything to do with Daniel, but everything to do with me. And I tried and failed and tried and failed and tried and failed to find someone that I would be proud to sit beside of at the Holiday party.
Then I thought about while I was trying to survive and trying to rebuild me, that Daniel had missed it all. Daniel is no more. And I felt guilty cause in a way I have been selfish for almost 800 days. Since grieving seems to be such a taboo in America, there are things that nobody told me about- like this guilty feeling. Like how I might need to be medicated to accept someone’s life has ended and I must begin again solitaire. Like how hard it would be to feel confident again. Like how understanding things end and can end quickly can corrupt your view.
It doesn’t make Daniel’s absence any easier. But I no longer carry the weight of grief. I do panic. For the smallest thing. I’ll probably continue to do so at least for a bit longer. I’ll continue to swallow my little blue pills.
When I put my thoughts in this perspective, I understood why the time took me by surprise.
And this is where I have been for two years.