I cried yesterday at work. In my well-lit, easily viewed cubicle. In front of my co-workers. I used this month’s sick leave so Mike could come and pick me up.
I consider myself a level-headed person who is not quick to throw fits or ramble interminably about who’ll win Survivor China. And yet I was a dramatic, hot, red-faced mess, crying in the absolute worst place to cry.
I could say that my mini-breakdown began that morning when I caught myself in the bathroom mirror, crying and brushing my teeth. Have you ever tried to brush your teeth and cry at the same time? It’s pretty pathetic and difficult to maintain oral health when you’re sobbing.
I could also say that this began the night before, when Mike drove our family around to look at Christmas lights but all I wanted to talk about was how sad I was feeling, how this wasn’t just holiday-induced and this year I can’t seem to shake it off.
But really this started eight years ago when my best friend hanged herself in her front yard. She died one month after my brother did.
There are moments when I try to believe that I’m better now and that somehow time has worked its healing powers the way it does in love songs and romantic comedies. And then I realize how long it’s been since I buried my friend and all of a sudden my co-workers are asking what’s wrong and I’m crying so hard I can’t even explain any of it.
All these years, I’ve been able to live different versions of myself: the professional working woman, the frazzled mom, etc., but it’s this version of Mona who is coming back and affecting all of these other neatly segregated personalities: a sixteen-year-old Mona who has to give the eulogy at her best friend’s funeral.
I would rather talk about more light-hearted events in my life like one of my oldest and dearest friends is having a baby boy and getting married soon. For the first time in three years, we are not traveling for Christmas. We are spending our first Christmas in our brand-new home. A home that is necklaced with white, shiny icicle lights, thanks to my husband. Our decorations include large cumbersome wreaths! And a tree!
I’ve been hesitant to write about this, much less talk about it out loud because of how sad it is and the enormity of what I am facing. But I’m not doing anyone any favors to let another year go by and wallow in this trough come next December.
There is no shelf life to grief. I’m not going to wake up in two years, a decade having passed and magically I’m transformed into a emotionally-balanced and functioning human being. There is no I’ve decided this is the last year I am going to suffer without any help.
I would like to think that in a year I would have made some progress. I have to believe that I will be able to process what happened without breaking down. I have to believe that this will make me a better person.
But I don’t know. I’m not there yet.