6 days after I wrote that last entry, my grandfather, my mother's father, also passed away.
It was almost funny, walking back into the same funeral home almost exactly three weeks later, meeting with the bubbly and efficient Adrienne again, hearing her admonish us for not following her last instructions - "I don't want to see you back here for a long, long, time" - same room full of caskets, same catering menu, same pit in the centre of your chest that threatens to consume all of you. But a little different, of course. And, in some ways, just a little bit worse.
I did both their eulogies. I did one for my grandmother, too, four years ago. This has made me the de facto eulogizer in my family now, a task I would happily leave to literally anyone else - if I weren't so damn good at it. Unfortunately, it's half because it's easy to write about people you love so intensely, and half because, let's be frank, I've gotten some decent practice recently. The theatre degree continues to have unforeseen uses.
I'd be lying if I said I'm okay, though for some moments I'm "okay". I eat, I dress myself, I bathe, I laugh, I play with the dog, I watch my newly-acquired Netflix. I survive. In those moments I can see a bare glimmer about 50 miles in the distance, of how, one day, I might be able to rebuild a life for myself. But the nights are harder. Around 10 I can feel it coming in, like a tide, or a cloud cover announcing an impending storm. And before I even know to run for cover, the thoughts are there, smothering me, unable to let me alone for even a moment.
Sometimes I think about regret. I force myself to conjure up every shitty thing I ever did to them, or think about how things would have been different if only I'd paid more attention, forced them to get second opinions, helped out in some way. I think about how scared they might have been, or lonely. I think about how I can never give them presents, or affection, or tell them I love them ever again. I know it's useless, and probably damaging to think this way. So then I think about anger. I think about the way some family members treated them. I think about the things we'll never get to experience, the things that other people take for granted. I think about intact families in malls, multi-generational groups of women, arm-in-arm, getting pictures with Santa, eating in food courts, blowing on the bellies of oblivious infants. I get so angry that all I want to do is push those families down the stairs. I've taken to muttering "You'll get yours" under my breath instead, and it helps, even if I acknowledge this is pretty much the Most Shitty Thing to Think.
Sometimes the regret and the anger are too exhausted to come, so then I invite fear. Fear that this is my life now; that, one by one, month by month, everyone who means something to me will disappear, leaving me behind. Fear that the support I have right now will fade away as people expect me to "get over it" and I will have to go through life as I do now - a shell that smiles and says the right thing and nods at what you're saying when inside I am roiling, boiling lava, a heatwave of panic and despair that moves up and down my body like some Hellish tide. Fear that this shroud I put on every morning will always complete every outfit, every day. Fear that I am not strong enough to rebuild any of this life, never mind myself.
And when the regret and the anger and the fear and the despair and the panic have all tucked themselves in for the night, I settle back into agony. Because there's always, Always, a little more agony left at the end of the day.
Grief is a generous guest. He never lets you deal with anything alone.