Grief. For some reason - hubris, probably - I thought that I could escape it. I thought it wasn't going to be a big deal. I mean, for real, people pass on. It's the whole "circle of life", and all that jazz. People come into your life, and people leave your life.
I expected to be sad when we cleaned out his room. When I canceled the medication refills, tidied up the loose ends of financial paperwork, notified doctors, nurses, and friends that he passed on. Sad comes with the territory when you're getting copies of the death certificate, closing accounts, figuring out what to do with the house, the furniture, the clothing and the loose ends of life.
But grief? Grief waits until you think you are past all of that, and smacks you right slap upside the head in a moment that's so ludicrous you can't even believe it.
I had to go to the bank today to conduct some business for my father-in-law. I've been to this bank many times, almost all of them with him, and one of the very last times that I took him, he was very irate over something. Today I stood in line and remembered how angry he used to get. Then I was called forward, and dealt with the teller that he most liked. Understand - he didn't really like her, she was just what he considered the lesser of all the evils in that bank. I remember that he constantly told me he was going to change banks. He never got around to it.
I expected to be upset sometimes. I expected to have memories. Yesterday, for example, I noticed that my stovetop was dirty, and I remembered that one day my father-in-law had scrubbed it as a surprise for me. He was always the person who wanted to be busy, to be productive, to contribute – and the fact that his health kept him from doing that frustrated him a great deal. So when he realized that I was typically negligent on cleaning up the top of my stove, he sprang into action. The entire time he lived with me, my stovetop was very clean. He could wheel his walker over, sit on the seat, and scrub it to his hearts content. Yesterday, I noticed how dirty the stove was, and I got teary-eyed.
I expected that kind of stuff. It comes with the territory. I did not expect that I would become weepy eyed standing in the bank.
Or start crying when I drove by the Starbucks, the one I used to visit with my sister-in-law.
Grief is cruel. Grief is difficult. Grief lasts a long time, sideswipes you when you least expect it, and comes like a thief in the night.
I expected it. Just - not like this.