Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Just Write: Four years of water

What a difference four years makes.  One thousand four hundred sixty-two days, in fact, since I've seen my dad alive.  Yesterday marked four years since our family got the call that catapulted us into an eight-day vigil in the ICU at Harborview Medical Center.  Dad in a coma. 

But I'm not here to reminisce about those eight days, or the one thousand four hundred fifty-four after, since he's been gone.  I've already written a lot about this journey of grief, in the nitty gritty raw emotion of experience, but today, I'm just thinking about how grief and water go together.  What can I say, I'm a girl who likes her similes.

In the ICU, grief was like a raging river, dragging us along in the grip of its current.  We could hear the waterfall roaring in the distance and hoped we'd be rescued from the river before we reached it.  But on August 13th, we fell over the top of the falls as we said goodbye to Dad - Mom and Sis and the rest of our family and me - tumbling together to the bottom, paddling to stay afloat.  

In my bereavement counseling internship, leading up to Dad's death, I learned that grief is not linear.  It's more like waves of the ocean.  Waves that start off looming large, cresting hard and frothy, falling in cascading roars like the open jaws of a lion.  In the beginning, one wave hitting after another, eventually spacing out.  And over time, those waves decrease in intensity, less distance to fall from the height of emotion to the surface of the sea.  But anyone in grief knows, a sneaker wave can come in at any time.  I remember those waves very well.  Every now and then, a wave still hits, though they're spaced out much farther apart and not often as intense as those earlier months.  

In Guatemala, less than two months after his death, grief was like the thunderstorms that popped up in a matter of one minute of an otherwise warm afternoon.  The skies would open and release torrents of rain in a clash of thunder, relentlessly, for several minutes.  And then, the clouds rolled up and the sun returned.  I remember standing in awe of those thunderstorms, almost in jealousy, wishing for the ability to release my grief with such force, only to peel back the clouds so quickly and allow the sun to shine again.  

And now, grief four years out, feels more like coasting along in a tamer river.  Most of the time, I'm floating the river and it's peaceful and gentle.  And then I'll hit a little whirpool here, or a stronger current there, and occasionally some rapids that toss me around for awhile.  But most of the time, I'm just floating, remembering the man who helped bring me into this world and walked alongside me for twenty-seven years.  The man who gave me his eyes and blonde hair, a quirky sense of humor and ability to laugh at my own jokes, an affinity for words and my propensity for dreaming.  Yes, I think of him. 

*This post is linked up with JustWrite, a Tuesday free-writing exercise


  1. thank you Amber. Love, Amy T

  2. You're welcome, Amy. And thanks for reading and dropping me a note here and there through the years. I remember how my Dad liked you so much :-D And so do I.