We are almost done, Grief. He died so long ago. Last night, right? So long ago.
We are almost done with this phase of our relationship. Because he died almost 11 months ago. And we have a shift coming up for us.
The recitation of Kaddish continues for 11 months after burial of my father. It ends in a week or so. And in the cruelest twist of the fate for this Jewess, because it’s a leap year in Judaism, I have an extra month of the rest of the grieving practices which typically end at 12 months. Singing, celebrating, dancing at happy joyous events, wearing bright colors… because of my Jewishness, this year lets them end at 13 months rather than at 12 months.
So, Grief: how does it feel?
I’m just another body, right? You got all up in my business, you came uninvited, you made yourself right at home, you stayed and you stayed and you stayed. And now I’m just mad. I want it to be over. But not over as in, “Grief has ended.” Over as in, “Grief never happened. It was a bad really really super duper long dream. Your father is alive.”
But that’s not how it works, though, is it Grief? You are the real deal. You’re authentic. You’re not going anywhere just because the calendar of my people who have kept it for thousands of years says so.
I’m ready. I think. Yeah: I think I’m ready to move into our next iteration. What will that be like? One day you’re here, inside of the toothpaste and in my margarine I spread on my bialy and in my blood and my veins and every capillary is bursting with you and I can’t sing or dance or wear red please no red; and then the next day, it’s just toothpaste and margarine and oxygen bonded to iron bonded to blood and the blood fills my muscles so that they dance dance dance and I sing sing sing and it’s just red red red happy happy joy joy?
No. You’d never have it that way, would you?
If you want me to be really honest, I fear it might just be more of the same, but by a different name. You won’t be just Grief, you’ll be The Grief That Took Hold A Year After My Father Died.
And bless the people who tell me they know how I feel. That it’s normal to feel this. Bless those people. And yet, in some moments, damn them, too. Because they don’t know. They know how they felt/they know their own pain/they sympathize/they mean well. But they don’t know how I feel. They don’t know what it’s like to look like my dad and to stand like him and to talk like him and to gesture like him and to have his life experience drilled into a brain like it’s been drilled into mine. They don’t know. I want to be held by all of you and I also want to push you all away. Far, far away.
Go away. And take Grief with you.
Because no one asked me if Grief could come. And no one checked with me to see if I had other plans in my life.
Bless you, Grief, for teaching me so much. And damn you, Grief, for teaching me so much.
(This is part of an ongoing series by Mayim Bialik chronicling her journey through the year of mourning following her father’s death in April 2015. For previous pieces in this series, click here.)