June 6, 2018
(c) Sheridan Hill
The Day Corey Left This World
On June 6, 2018, when I woke, I had to think: Is it Monday? Tuesday? And then, only then, did it hit me. It’s “that day.”
It is amazing how much time it takes for the immensity of pain to begin to diminish around a gaping wound. For an unhealed gash to stop taking in every fleck of emotional debris as it wafts past. To stop gathering up the roaring intensity of loss—while you’re not paying attention.
We have had the rush and roar of flood waters here lately in the Swannanoa Valley, calling to mind the emotional floods of mourning. The pace of grief is akin to the way the rain waters build quietly…at first, we don’t notice how they are gaining in speed and velocity and volume as they rush down the mountainsides. It’s only when they visibly press out of the narrow stream beds and river beds that we begin to sense a problem.
There is a phase when the rains are falling in torrents and reoccurring flash-floods, dropping four inches of rain in as many hours, when everyone can see their terrible force. Like when the first news arrives of a horrendous loss--a death, a disaster, a crime--the sympathy lunges forth. People see your pain and can’t help but speak to it. Part of you feels less crazy, because others are, however momentarily, with you in the pain. That’s the definition of empathy, really: to suffer with. It takes a strong person to suffer with you, even for a split-second, to allow the pain to be shared. I maintain that when we “go there,” go into the pain, especially together, that it creates a portal for grace to pour in. For the angels to make their winged presences known. And all the beautiful grievers, are given a moment of feeling less like an insane person who is alone with your constant waves of grief.
With flooding rains and with the waters of grief, when the blue and the sun return to the sky, when folks turn their focus to their daily routines, that is when the flooding is most dangerous, because hundreds of thousands of gallons of what has been gathering upstream are about to cycle past your town, your neighborhood, your house, your heart.
After our loved ones are buried or turned to ash, after we have been awarded a couple of weeks to be sad and unable to focus on anything but the loss, after the generous expressions of sympathy have stopped arriving in the inboxes, that is when mourning begins.
It comes along slowly, invisibly like that.
There we stand, alone, in a vague, blue, spotlight, courageously trying to figure a new way of being, struggling to learn how to walk while carrying something large and weird: a humpback of loss.
Grieving is how love expresses what it is missing. Grieving is love crying out: Where are you?
I have a part that screams, “I’m over it!,” and I have a part that whispers, “I’ll never get over this,” and I have parts that still weep in the dark when no one is around and parts that feel the presence of my precious Corey and sometimes even smile with her.
Today, I miss Corey. I got through “the day” by staying very busy and volunteering time for a flood-recovery project at my church, dinner with relatives to celebrate my grandson’s graduation from middle school. We are so proud of these wonderful children!
But that night in bed, probably between the time the black bears made their trek through my yard and when the screech owl sounded, while my ego was at bay and unable to resist the true pain of loss, I awoke, feeling my daughter’s presence upon me, feeling the rawness of her life here ended, and hot tears descended as the love and the loss crashed together. Then, quiet.
I love you, Corey. We miss you so. We are still working to find you, to meet you where you are, with your big, courageous, spunky, Leo heart. Thank you for your beauty. Thank you for the love, then and now.
(Images at the beginning and below this post are from Corey's IPad.)