(If you get that reference to an old commercial, then we can be friends. If you can quote from The Princess Bride, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Harry Potter [all of them], LOTR [all of them] and MIB I-III, and if you secretly love the first Terminator movie, then we can be BEST friends. If you’ve read and love Terry Pratchett books, well, you can move in.)
We are all grateful for the counseling appointments because it is a safe place to share our separate journeys with such a common subject – a place where we can all hear from each other (three introverts, in case you missed that salient point; Mark was the only extrovert). I get this picture in my head, of our counselor sitting in the center of a ring of 3 turtles who have their heads pulled completely inside their shells, but little chubby legs/claws are still extended, desperately reaching out to the others and holding on tight.
Not surprisingly, Steve is not one to talk about his deepest feelings; he’s let me (well…maybe I’m more of an “ambivert”, a term Sarah recently introduced me to) be the family emoter, the spokesperson, for decades. It works for us, for the most part. Steve does talk in counseling, which is good. But no surprises, really, in what he shares: we are all miserable. Steve misses Mark terribly, endlessly, just like us. He hates that he never got to say good-bye to his son. He steadfastly rejects any notion that this was God’s plan in the first place. I encourage him to start writing, to have conversations with God, to get his grief out. I worry it will catch up to him after tax season, which is fast approaching. And yet work has been one of the things that has actually saved Steve’s psychological bacon…he’s self-employed, he brings the bacon home, in fact, for this family…so if he doesn’t work, that’s that. There’s also something to be said for getting up and putting on the clothes and going to the office. One foot in front of the other.
In my opinion, Sarah is doing the best of us three, in the sense that she has this independent life – this college existence – to envelop her. It is and has been totally separate from home, from Mark; she has great friends there that she is learning to lean on. She can see our grief counselor on her own if necessary.
Academically – she needed a lot of room after Mark died, to back off. She dropped two classes right after she returned in late October because she knew they’d be too much, require more focus and energy than she had. When she got home for winter break in mid-December just a couple of weeks ago, she said, brightly: “Well! I got an A in marching band!” She’d gotten “incompletes” from her professors for the two remaining classes; at least they were giving her time to do the work, into the next semester.
Me – you’ve already read it. I journal, cry, talk to God, take long walks, talk a little. I also occasionally feel the need to “vomit all over Facebook” as I put it…write stuff to Mark and about Mark. It helps me. It helps me to expel my grief, just a little. That’s all I can say.