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The Twelfth of October

Five years have passed since Megan died.


On the anniversary of her death, I weeded and mulched the trees in the back orchard as a way of “dealing” with the sadness. Was that the best option? It was the option I chose as I simply do not know how to “best” deal with sadness. On my way back to the orchard, I sat on the blue bench at “Megan’s Spot” by the pond and cried hard. The kind of crying that doesn’t stop on command. The kind of crying that leaves you emptied. It helped, but tinges of sadness remained all day.


How best to remember/honor the day your daughter died? How best to acknowledge the sadness and grief and make of it something that helps rather than hurts? I dig the slivers from myself as best I can, but the hurt remains. I tell myself stories in order to live.


I prefer to grieve alone. I believe we all grieve alone and intrusions on the grieving process disrupt the natural flow. For me, grief is a very private process and even writing about it seems like a transgression on memory. I didn’t answer phone calls and stayed away from social media, particularly from posts that kindly and thoughtfully remembered my daughter’s passing. I do not need reminders; I have a trunk full of them.


Megan was a blessing like no other blessing in my life. I miss her terribly, but saying this over and over doesn’t help. I know it and she knows it.


As I weeded and mulched, I held in my mind a picture of Megan sitting on the John Deere, mowing the back field with the belly mower. She was happy and smiling. She was in her element. She was alive, very much alive, as she is in my memory and in my heart.


Now, in that same field, there are forty or more fruit and nut trees. As I worked, I focused on the six English Walnut trees, spaced almost exactly 12 feet apart in two rows, and another row of four Hican nut trees also equally spaced. Such planting was my way of imposing an order on the world in a world that has an order of its own.


In decades to come, when these are strong, 60-foot-tall trees, someone may wonder how they got to be there in this field and in such a pattern. They wouldn’t guess that it was the work of a foolish old man trying to keep his life together and find meaning in it when much of the meaning had escaped.


On such days, it seems all is lost and everything is heavy with the absence of life. The air is out of my sails and I have no real desire to work or do anything. I just want to feel the sadness and let it pass through me. As it passes through, it takes with it some memory or feeling that I no longer need. I am cleansed by my grief. God knows a lot of cleansing remains but I am renewed. A tad lighter. A tad softer. A tad, just a tad, less sad.


It’s axiomatic to say that life goes on after the death of someone dear to you. But the life that goes on is not the life that you had. It’s never the same and magical thinking for this sameness only adds to the pain. One’s life is forever altered. There’s no escaping the change only the effort to incorporate the change into my life.


I have no desire to go on living “happily ever after”, as if that were possible even to fake, nor do I have any desire to walk about hobbled and chained by regrets and sadness. After the weeding and mulching, I sink to my knees and cry again. I think I will never be able to get up. Then I do.

Photo taken October 12, 2014


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