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This weekend marked the one year anniversary of my younger sister's death. Given who I am and the way I tend to fetishize the calendar into a personal piece of family archivist performance art, facing that anniversary started me thinking. And my thoughts took me on paths that traveled through several different losses and had me asking several different questions.

Now it does not escape my attention that such "thinking" as I've been engaged in the last few days is one tried and true method for avoiding the feelings that such anniversaries give rise to.


Or, sobeit.

Or, any other random interjection that can illustrate acknowledgement of said point enough to prevent detours down distracting side roads, because the off-the-beaten pathways of my recent thoughts are tangential enough.  I've been in a funk of late and it's left me wondering on a couple of levels.    

I Just want my childhood back
Can't tell you how many days this sums up my life
I wrote, briefly, after my sister's funeral about the way that event had effectively erased our shared childhood. My two remaining sisters and I were each hit very deeply, and quite differently by that. Adult sibling relationships being what they are in my family, such things--for reasons of sanity preservation--rarely get discussed. That event was what it was, given the people who were in charge of it and in the end bearing grudges amounted to nothing more than an extraordinarily unproductive and self-defeating choice of action, so I made like Elsa. (But what is it, I wonder, about a death in the family, that seems to release whatever restraints against behaving badly that people carry around, so that, invariably, someone will simply let loose and the rest of us always have to deal with the aftermath?).

In my mind thoughts of my childhood are now tied up with thoughts of folks passing. I guess it is harder for me to separate the idea of the loss of my childhood from the loss of  more folks who actually knew me during it. --Wait a minute, says the stern voice in the back of my head, this is just crazy-assed self absorption here!--

My parents have been gone for a long time now, and so the grief of their loss is just a familiar ache. But the loss of my sister brought a double kind of loss, or the awareness of it, not so much that she was gone, which is a hole that remains, but the even deeper recognition that the numbers of folks for whom my childhood was special are diminishing too.

Oddly, I was reminded of this again, as I read about the passing of both James Garner and Lauren Bacall recently, each of them favorites of my mother. I was saddened to learn of their deaths, of course. But what made me even sadder, I think was that I realized there were now fewer things in the world to remind me of her, to think of how reminders and markers of the world she lived in, the world we shared were falling away, as a different world takes over.

Perhaps this is, then, one of the much later stages of grief, when once one becomes accustomed to living in a world where your loved ones are no more, and you begin to see the ways the changes in that world impact you???

It seems selfish in a way to mourn such a thing, a thing that is more about me than those I've lost, but I can't help but remember the words my father used when we stood at the graveside of his first cousin, his last remaining relative from that generation, when he looked at us: his children and hers and said:

She was the last person who knew me as a child.

There was a sadness in in his eyes when he said that, that made me realize what a burden it must feel like to be the last one of your generation. I watched my grandfather go through that as well, though never did he express it as directly as my father did. A different level of grief, perhaps, and one not easily expressed.

I guess that's the true moment when you know you're a grown up: when there's no one or nothing left in the world that can call up the days of your childhood, and no possibilities for sharing it. Is that the time when you must, irrevocably, let go of your childhood?

I know that I'm starting to feel that way, a bit, the more I grow to realize that there's really no one left to whom my childhood is special, no one outside myself that is. That doesn't mean I've yet to lose my childhood completely, but it does mean its becoming just a selfish, self-serving memory, because there is no one to share it with.

Strange tangents, I know.  And selfish ones. But sometimes, that IS the way that grief works.

Welcome, fellow travelers on the grief journey
and a special welcome to anyone new to The Grieving Room.
We meet every Monday evening.
Whether your loss is recent, or many years ago;
whether you've lost a person, or a pet;
or even if the person you're "mourning" is still alive,
("pre-grief" can be a very lonely and confusing time),
you can come to this diary and say whatever you need to say.
We can't solve each other's problems,
but we can be a sounding board and a place of connection.
Unlike a private journal
here, you know: your words are read by people who
have been through their own hell.
There's no need to pretty it up or tone it down..
It just is.

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