You know when you're walking on the beach and the tide is going out, and each time a wave pulls out the next one comes back just a little bit further out than the one that preceded it?
I think grief is like this. In the beginning, it threatens to consume you whole. You are flayed by it and flailing, you are drowning in it. Your eyes and throat are raw from wailing; your skin is so thin and tender it barely contains your corporal being. You think you might just curl up and die from the pain.
But you don't. And eventually, you begin to heal. The hurt doesn't exactly disappear, but you gain distance. And the memories that wash over you from time to time aren't always painful.
I'm not going to compare one grief to another, but I will say that suicide leaves human wreckage in its wake like a hurricane, a tsunami. Its reach is far and wide and devastating.
And I've come to believe that grief retreats like the tide. It's always there for you to immerse yourself in, but with enough time and help, you don't have to. You can gain some distance, enjoy the relief of the ebb, and stroll on the memory beach with a mix of happiness and sadness.
The susurration of the ocean pulling away is rhythmic and soothing, and you walk along, feeling
the water lapping your feet, the sand shifting and sliding gently away
beneath your soles.
And then a bigger wave will come along that pushes farther up than you expect.
These sudden waves, they scare me. I don't know why, when I'm at most ankle deep and my feet are already wet. They're low; it's not like they can pull me out with them.
But still, I startle. I get that scared fluttery stomach feeling. Every time.
And here is what I learned the other day: that my father made his suicide hotel reservations in advance.
I had always assumed that he hit a particularly desperate moment and decided he just couldn't take it anymore. He always had medications on hand. And rope is a common household item. Those didn't take any planning.
Desperation, I can understand. But this planning in advance, it seems like so much more of a betrayal.
Is that ridiculous? How can it matter at this point? My dad is dead, and he managed to commit suicide, and in the end it doesn't actually matter if he decided five minutes before or planned it way ahead of time.
But facts like this, they catch me like the surprise wave.
These waves of abandonment, of betrayal, they crash into me - though not so hard as they used to - and they shift the ground beneath me. I'm now strong enough to not lose my footing, to not just sit down and sob.
But goddammit. Fucking suicide.