In part, the "old man" wrote:
I thought about his response in the context of infertility and grieving the loss of my children (even though for me they were just a dream) and it is so true. I can say that the metaphor of waves is so appropriate. In the beginning the waves were so high and so close together that I really didn't know if I'd make it out on the other side. With time the waves decreased in both intensity and I've learned to identify when they are likely to come and how to survive them.As for grief, you'll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you're drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it's some physical thing. Maybe it's a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it's a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don't even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you'll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what's going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything...and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.Somewhere down the line, and it's different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O'Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you'll come out.Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don't really want them to. But you learn that you'll survive them. And other waves will come. And you'll survive them too.
Right now I'm in a phase where I'm getting battered by a few waves. Since I found out that my third sister is pregnant I've been having a pretty tough time. I can't really explain it. It's not the breakdown/ugly cry variety of a tough time, more the variety where I feel like a black cloud is following me around. I thought the first would be the hardest. Then came the second. And now the third. I think that maybe it's because I'm the last one. Because before she was pregnant at least I wasn't the only one who didn't have kids. But now I'm alone. I'm not angry. I knew this was going to happen at some point. But even though it was expected, it's still hitting hard. The weight of the unfairness is heavy. I feel vulnerable. With as much as I'm trying hard not to, I'm slipping into a pity party and I don't like it one bit. I know this is normal. I've been through it before. I'll survive.
Grief is a fickle thing. I need to acknowledge my feelings and give myself permission to feel them to get through this. I wish it wasn't this hard.