It was the Thursday before we were to leave for Canada for the White Wedding. The sun was already beginning its descent down over the trees making long shadows across the pond. I was at the cemetery. The conversation went a little like this.
“Lukester, buddy, I love you, but I am headed up to Canada tomorrow and I am going to do my best to not think about you for the next few days. You see, a wedding is a happy occasion and I have to support the family and do that whole MC thing and no one wants me bringing things down if I get sentimental. Sigh. So. Yeah. Wish me luck with that.”
I blew him a kiss and headed out. And for the next 72 hours I tucked Luke away in my heart and hit delete any time my thoughts turned to him. He snuck out once as I gave my speech to the newleyweds because Jacob is so good about texting me on hard days, but other than that I was busy enough and surrounded by tons of happy to make it through. And let’s be honest, I was trying here.
Because that’s the truth of it, friends. Getting up everyday and putting our grief aside so that we can function like the rest of the world requires a marathon of effort. And damn fine acting skills. This fact hit me square in the head this past weekend. As I cheerleadered (I know, Chuck, this is not a word and yet this is what I did lol) myself through the weekend – You can do this, Patty. Happy thoughts only, Patty. Meryl Streep has nothing on you, Patty, lol – I realized something: There are people all around us putting on a brave face and going through the day when all they want to do is sit in a corner and cry. But we forget what loss people are carrying, don’t we, as time goes on, and they fool us by appearing so together. I observed my co-workers this week with fresh eyes and I was in awe at the strength each of them displays as they come to school appearing to be positive and in the best of spirits despite the missing. Because it doesn’t matter how long it has been – when you lose someone you love, you think about them every day. So to Bill, and Beth-Anne, and Jessica, and Bev, and Tara, and Lorraine, and all the others at my work place who make their way through the day without a loved one… you are my heroes and my inspiration. All of you out there! If you are getting up and getting on, bravo!
So here’s what I need you to know: There’s an old expression that says, “Be Kind for everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” As the young people like to say- this is Facts. This weekend in Canada was my reminder that we need to be gentle and accepting of one another.
So here is how my story ends: After the long eight hour drive home, I pulled JLO (that’s what I call my 4Runner) in to the cemetery and circled round to the back. I walked over to where my boy rests easy, knelt down on the ground, and I wailed. I let out all the emotion and love and missing that I had been holding onto out into the world. I thought about how much I missed him at the wedding. I thought about how he would never be married. I thought about all the dreams for him that were never going to come true. And then the next morning I got up, put a smile on my face and went to school. Because isn’t that just what we grievers do? I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.