Well, it’s been nine months since Kevin left us, so I suppose it’s as good a time as any to reflect on where my journey has taken me since that awful day.
Those first few days, between the accident and the funeral, I was operating on auto-pilot. I didn’t eat or sleep very much. I was pretty much an emotional zombie. I kept really busy planning and pulling together things for the wake. We needed to be at the funeral home around 3:30 for the wake. I remember bringing all the collages and mementos up to Lyons around 11:30 and suddenly I had four hours to kill and I felt very restless. I decided to take a walk, and I wandered down route 62 without any clear destination in mind. As you get to the bottom of the hill there is a little sitting area between Dick and June’s and the strip mall on the other side of the street. I sat there for quite some time watching the fall sun reflect of the waves and the seagulls diving and swerving over the tidal pool. I had difficulty understanding how something so beautiful could exist in a world with such pain and sorrow.
The next few months kind of flickered in and out. I remember some specific things, but not the sequence of events. It was like watching a movie where the film kept breaking and the story started up again at a different place. There was a period of time where I didn’t really care about anything. I don’t know how long it lasted, a couple of weeks I think, but it was the worst period of my life. I just felt empty and alone but I had no desire to do anything about it.
As I began to look around and take stock of those around me I felt more tired than I ever remember feeling before. Each day was a forced march, no matter what I was doing. On those occasions where I was able to focus on something, I would find myself unable to perceive anything else. If someone walked up to me and asked me a question I literally didn’t hear them. What was going on, I think, was my subconscious was churning away trying to process my loss, I was using my conscious mind on whatever it is I was doing and there was nothing left. I had no “system idle process”. My mind was totally occupied. It was a very strange sensation.
Sometime in the late winter or early spring I began to emerge from the emotional cocoon I had woven. I noticed I was starting to think about the afterlife. I was imagining Kevin spending time with other lost loved ones, specifically my parents and in-laws. I started thinking a lot about my parents at that point, first my father and then my mother. I realized I had never completely dealt with the emotional fallout of losing my parents. The enormity of Kevin’s loss was such that I had no way of sidestepping it the way I had when my parents had passed away, and at the same time I needed to take that old pain out and examine it in order to move forward in working out Kevin’s death.
As spring progressed I find myself searching. I feel a need to prove to myself that there is something “beyond”. I have begun reading about near death experiences. I have found some comfort in these books. I have chosen to open my once cynical mind and consider these stories in a different way than I would have “before”. I have concluded that there is something more. Death is not an ending, but a transition. I have also found something else, a different way of looking at the world and my place in it. I’ve been focusing on the effect and impact that my actions have on others, there are those ripples again. I’m trying to be more compassionate, less angry, and less judgmental. I think this fits in very well with my hope to live a better life as a tribute to Kevin.
There is still a LONG way to go. There are still things I need to work hard on. For one thing I know I’ve been isolating myself in many ways. At Compassionate Friends folks often talk about the isolation that society forces on us. I don’t see it that way. I think we “bereaved parents” isolate ourselves, at least I have. On the one hand I think it’s healthy and understandable that we focus on those closest to us, but clearly becoming re-engaged in larger families and society is a big part of the healing process.
More importantly I don’t think I’ve really processed the emotional side of Kevin’s death. Most of what I have done has been on an intellectual level. I think it’s been worthwhile, but I also think it’s something less than half the job to be done. I’m not entirely sure how to approach this very scary task. I’ll need to figure it out sooner or later.
I guess I feel like I’ve made some progress in the last nine months. I don’t know exactly how or when but I can at least imagine coming out the other side of the forest at some point. You have no idea how much progress this represents.