A Lifetime of Lent

There’s so much more information about loss and grief now than there was in the past. While I think that some things people did in the past could make a come back, I don’t think they were ever explained well or were done from a mental health point of view. Covering mirrors, wearing black for a year, not watching TV or going out of the house for a month after the funeral, etc. etc. My family had a lot of traditions that died when my grandfather did. When my grandmother died my mom and her siblings gave up trying to get us unruly kids to observe mourning in the way that they grew up. One of my younger cousins asked my uncle for a cigarette which led him to find the rest of us hiding behind the funeral home smoking. I will never forget the look of disappointment on his face. It was obvious that he felt something about how we as a family respect the dead was gone. I had no idea that it was about respecting the dead. I always thought he was disappointed that we were smoking. I never smoked a cigarette in front of the man again in my life.

On Super Bowl Sunday the NBC show This Is Us showed the death of the family patriarch. I knew that I was not ready to watch it but seeing everyone else talking about it was too much temptation for me. I watched it. It is an amazing show that really did portray what grief from sudden loss looks like. The problem is that I don’t need a show to do that for me. I already know. I think that started off the chain reaction of reliving Anthony’s death. I don’t blame watching that show though, from what I understand, it’s pretty normal when the first anniversary is looming around the corner. If it had not been that show, it would have been something else. Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday Mass, King Cake, a school shooting that brings up the issues of guns, mental health and a young man who is lost and reminds me of Anthony on some level.

The problem with reliving all those memories now is that I am no longer in shock. With the clarity of time I look back and I’m so mad at my brain for allowing me to shut down all of my emotion and become a robot. Anyone who knows me will tell you that everyone was preparing for me to lose my mind. I never did. My brain, conditioned by a lifetime of trauma, just shut it all down. Now the comfort of shock is gone and I am trying to remodel my life to make room for this grief.

I have been grieving for the last year but I am barely starting the mourning process.

Anthony is not coming back. He is really dead. This is not a horrible dream.

My life moving forward will be one where those facts live along side the joys that are yet to come. And there are joys. Cam turned two years old, Ariana is becoming Catholic and I’m writing a book. Plus I have my first speaking gig coming up! The thing is though, every single joy comes with its own reminder that I can’t pick up the phone and call Anthony to hear him congratulate me. Each joy is a sacrifice in a way.

I am moving with the grief not through it or over it. That is the only way that I get to keep Anthony. It is a lifetime of Lent.


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