She stood under the running water for what seemed the longest time. For once, relishing in the sensation, in no rush to finish showering and hurry off to the next thing. She remembered him. And then she understood, finally after 47 years, she understood why he had always stood under that shower head for what seemed an excessive length of time. When she questioned his little habit he would smile sweetly and reply that he enjoyed it. She never knew that experience of pure enjoyment of the flowing water, caressing and soothing. Now, in his absence, she felt what he had always known. Pleasure in the moment, joy from the simplest things. Her grief was yet too consuming for this feeling to become a healing force. Her tears took over from where the last drops fell, as she closed the shower door and prepared to venture into the world alone.
There is no 'moving on', no 'getting over' it, no 'living your life'. Not in her world of pain. "Grief is cumulative", she once heard from a grief counsellor at one of those group sessions. In pairs, they all discussed their lifetime of losses, wondering how each one contributed to the monolith of grief that loomed before them. She turned to her only daughter, and tentatively shared. Her vulnerability, rare and childlike. Perhaps she had never considered this before. So many losses, so much unexpressed thought and suppressed emotion. Loss of country, home, family, faith, career opportunities, future dreams. Original wounds that never fully healed. The bleeding stops. Layers of new skin mask the truth. Scar tissue. New injury. The wound opens and the bleeding starts again.
She does what she has to do. In the stoic way of all strong-willed Irish women of her generation. She makes her lists and does her best to be productive in the world. Her daughter had struggled to do this as a child and even into her young adult years. Any kind of loss debilitated her, striking her down with some illness, making her a hermit in her own home. But gradually she learned to release, express all that pain and anger, write in her journal and punch her pillows. She would give herself the gift of time with friends, a swim in the ocean or a massage. Healing comes slowly for the younger woman, but it comes. She reminds herself to dwell in the present moment. She remembers to be grateful. And these simple things help to move her forward into better days.
Tonight she listens to the rain on the roof of her parent's home and wonders if her father ever stood out in the rain. Just to feel it.
Copyright: Cindy M Sullivan
Causes Cindy Sullivan Supports
Plan: 'Because I'm a Girl'
Fred Hollows Foundation