Today I have to drive out to LA to cover graffiti painted on the retaining wall of the home that our niece, Aubre rents from us. What a pain. It’s gang graffiti. Old school “ES Metro x3- AF” scrawled quickly in practiced, stylized black letters. It is a trespass. A violation. An ugly symbol of someone else’s obstinate group pride on my property. If left alone, it will invite more graffiti, more tagging, and potentially, according to one theory, more crime. If left on the wall, it is a victory for our vandalous scribe… a testimony to his commitment and status. And indicator of his group’s significance in the neighborhood. And it will depress housing values.
So I have to cover it as soon as possible. Which has to be today. There is no other choice.
And today, the lamp went out in the projector in my class. There is no powerpoint for the students. There is no video that I can show. Just a flashing red light that announces to me that the projector will not be working today.
And then there was the copy machine, which of course, needed toner. So as I peeled the seal of the toner cartridge off, black powder went everywhere… on me, on the machine, in the machine. And I suppose that it will be a problem.
I am also out of tissues. And that is life.
I could tell you that it is a metaphor for grief, but it isn’t. Not everything is a metaphor.
This is a grief blog, however- so I feel obligated to speak about grief. So here it is. I love my job. I have a good life. I smile. I laugh. And there is an abundance of joy where I am. But it doesn’t mean that I am not also sad. Some things exist together in different measures.
It doesn’t mean that I don’t constantly ache for the life of my son. Grief goes on and on. And I am not writing to get attention. Nor do I think that somehow this is profound or hasn’t been said. It is one of the many ways to cope. To struggle and express love, and reach out for support and to say thank you. It isn’t easy to ask for help. It isn’t easy to tell others that I am not alright. Or to say that in spite of whatever joy surrounds me, there is still a deep well of sadness in the pit of my soul. It is also the way I pick up the pieces and try to fit them back together.
It is also about framing reality- scaffolding to hold emotional structures. Buttressing. Maybe even walls to shield and keep me safe. It is complicated. And articulating what I am thinking and doing and how I am figuring it out- maybe that is the thing.
The simple fact that every parent knows is that we put our children’s lives before our own. We live for our kids. We put their needs first. We love them. We each would die for them. So when a child dies, what then? My son is dead. I wasn’t given the choice or the opportunity to trade places. I was never given the option of trying to beguile death from his rounds or striking a bargain. It came without the chance to die for him. And you continue grieving, because you continue to love your child.
And nothing else in the world seems so important.
All around you people live their lives without these pockets of sadness- without this feeling of emptiness, and for all the joys in life and happy moments, there is always, that thing that seems to linger.
So some days are good. Some days are bad. Some days crap happens. Graffiti. Blown lamps in projectors. Broken copiers. Empty tissue boxes. And then all around the little personal dramas, life goes on and on and on. And so you go on and I go on and there seems no point or purpose or balance sometimes.