About a year ago, in late November 2016, Steve went to visit one of our clients in North Carolina. It’s a long drive — too much for one day.
Before he left, we were talking about Mark, and grief, and processing, and how we differ. I had been concerned that Steve, still operating under his usual habit of putting BIG EMOTIONAL THINGS in tightly-lidded boxes and stowing them on a shelf in his mental closet, was going to discover – far down the road – that grief only gets bigger and scarier, the longer you put it off and refuse to face it. I kept telling him: “Talk to God. Talk to Mark.”
1. There will be people who are INCREDIBLY wonderful, well-intentioned human beings (just like me, just like you) who will unwittingly drag you down as you grieve. For me, it’s those who are trying so hard (really, I am not being snarky) to empathize and to care for your heart, but who still manage to inject sadness into your every day life right when you were actually having a kind of decent, semi-normal day.
This happened last year, in August, while Steve and I were on vacation. We were having…fun. And it was also closing on the 8th of the month (the 10th month, in this case). I was aware of this, but had put it on the back burner of my brain. I even posted a few pictures on Facebook (of us, having fun), and there it went…in one of the comments, this wonderful person said something like this: “I am amazed that you can enjoy yourself when your heart is so broken.”
After enormous (and mostly age-appropriate!) fun with long-time friends in Lexington, Kentucky in the middle of this past month, Steve and I took a side trip, as we began the drive home, to visit Camp Shawnee – about 2 hours east of Lexington, in Floyd County. It was here, we had recently learned, that a beautiful outdoor chapel was dedicated – on Mark’s (future) birth date, in 1955, no less – to the memory of my grandfather, John T. Parker, who we did not have the privilege of knowing (he died of leukemia when my dad was just 22).