In the Looney Tunes cartoons we watched on Saturday mornings when I was a kid, there was a recurring gag where there was too much stuff in the closet. Someone would open the closet and more things than should fit in a closet that size would fall out, burying the person who opened it.
Grief is like that, sometimes.
It’s overwhelming in the beginning. You give some of it away and learn to live with some of it and the rest you don’t actually deal with right now, but instead, in order to function, you put it in the closet and it won’t really fit so you stuff and punch and contort and finally, you get the door closed so you can keep going with your life because we live in a capitalist society and your mortgage doesn’t go away just because people you love died.
So it’s all stuffed in that closet. And because you stuffed it in there – I mean, it may have taken a few weeks or even months to get it in there, but it was in there, and you had to lean against the door to get it shut – but because it’s stuffed in there, it was hell to get it all to fit. But you did.
And life goes on and most days everything is fine and sometimes you are whistful and sometimes you miss them and sometimes you walk by the closet and see the door and remember what’s in there, but you know it’s going to be a mess if you open that door, so you keep on moving.
But the problem is that we don’t live in a vacuum. Other people are moving around in our life as well, and one day, with no ill intent at all, somebody or something is gonna open that door and it will all fall out, but instead of burying them, it buries you. And when that happens, you have no choice but to sit in the midst of it and pick it all up again, handling each piece, looking at it this way and that, as you put it all back in the closet.
This is why this afternoon I was driving down the Interstate, tears streaming down my face. An old song came on the radio about a child’s love for his father and, without warning, ripped that door off its hinges.