The last viewing I went to was for my grandfather. He was in his early 80s. He passed away peacefully, the same way my grandmother did; heart attack, followed by brain-hemorrhage and then coma. I know it doesn’t sound peaceful, but it was. Both of them were gone the second their hearts had stopped. I didn’t cry in the ICU when the plug was pulled. Out of the hundreds of attendees, I was probably the only one that didn’t cry during their service.
Yesterday, I could not help but cry. As hard as I tried to laugh at some of the memories and stories my colleagues were telling me, I couldn’t push back the tears fast enough for none of them to notice. It was one of the most difficult days I’ve had in the past few years. I had never been to a viewing for someone so young. Matter-of-fact, this viewing was the third I had been to in my entire life. I know she wasn’t there anymore, but her body was. She looked peaceful and pain-free. She had battled a long, nasty fight with cancer and sadly the cancer had won.
It was not something any of us had expected, here in the office. It took many of us by shock. For me specifically, I didn’t believe it when my other colleague had text me on Monday to give me the bad news. I didn’t believe it when I saw the email go out to our department from her boss. I didn’t believe it when I got back in the office yesterday morning and a colleague that sits directly in front of me walked in, turned towards me and with the saddest eyes gave me a nod and half-smile verifying that I know exactly what her words were unable to tell me. I didn’t believe it when 11am came and the pack of us got up to leave to go to the service. I didn’t believe it when we drove down to the funeral home and walked in. I didn’t believe it when the photo at the entrance of the hall had her in it.
My mind, my body, my being was in complete denial until the moment I saw her laying there.
Then it was realization. Acceptance. Then, an overwhelming feeling of grief took over every single inch of my body, my eyes teared up quickly. But how could I cry? No one had seen me cry before. I was a tough-cookie, that was the perception everyone had of me. And there I was, center of the hall, surrounded by colleagues and her family and friends, letting the grief of her passing flowing out of me with no self-control left. I felt numb, my knees wobbled and my heart sank.
When I got home last night, I kept myself exceptionally busy. I cleaned, I cooked, I picked up Ni, showered her, fed her, played with her, focused so closely at the TV as she watched Caillou. But after she fell asleep, I was alone for what felt like the longest two hours of my life before D got home. Although, I texted a friend and tried to keep myself occupied, it was no use. I was tracking the page views and visitors on my blog; the numbers sky-rocketed. I knew people were reading my tribute to her. And every time I opened my blog page, there was her photo, shining, smiling at me, telling me it was okay, telling me to be strong and I will get through this. Even in her death, her smile was comforting me.
I didn’t sleep much last night. I kept remembering her. My mind was disturbed and my heart, sore. The tears had stopped. All my thoughts had disappeared. I felt numb, as I do this morning.
I said my goodbye to her yesterday, but here I am writing about her again. Maybe I haven’t fully said my goodbye. The hardest part is saying goodbye, when all you want to do is joke and laugh a bit more.
The saying goes, “everyone grieves differently”. That’s true. But what happens when you can’t let go? I wasn’t over Patricia’s death yet. Her photo, her name, her Facebook profile creeps up time and time again. And now, Jo’s death has opened the wound that hadn’t healed in the first place…