I took my seat in the narrow, dimly lit, and very dated waiting room. Did they take decor tips from The Bob Newhart show set? Two rows of armed leather chairs that seemed like they belonged more in an attorney’s office rather than a counseling center. (There seems to be a lot of chairs in this tiny room. I guess there are a lot of “us.”) Directly across from me was a little boy decked out in a Gamecock football jersey and gear. A super fan. (Even though I am technically and proudly a Clemson Tiger, I was raised by a Gamecock father, in a Gamecock family, so I couldn’t help but smile at his allegiance. He was a committed fan, even at no more than eight years old.) Our eyes met. We were both equally uncomfortable and not quite sure how we ended up there. In the minutes we sat, anticipating our ‘fate’, I couldn’t help but think this little boy had probably seen more life, pain, and hurt in his short time on Earth than I have in my thirty one years. Sitting there alone and nervous, I felt more like the child in the room. I briefly considered being like, “Hey dude, let’s blow this joint and hit up Chick-fi-la.” Fried chicken seems like a much better way to ‘heal.’ Then a gentleman appeared, carrying a file folder, and addressed my waiting room companion. He introduced himself and spoke to him super and almost weirdly enthusiastically. (I wanted to interrupt. Sir, this boy is eight not three.) My Gamecock friend rose from his seat as he was escorted away. He turn back and looked at me, seemingly wanting approval that it was going to be okay if he proceeded. Dude, I don’t know. Yes, fried chicken would have been a much better plan.
Moments later, it was my turn. A pleasant lady rounded the corner with a file that had to be mine. I wondered what was in there. Did she know my situation? I was somewhat disappointed there was no chaise lounge for me to stretch out on. There goes my Betty Draper moment. This is “grief counseling” so I guess we do grief in upright chairs. I sat in her office. I have forty five minutes and a sixty five dollar co-pay. Time is of the essence. I needed to get my “grief to dos” and get on with it. She asked me what I was “doing for me.” Silence. Um, clearly you were taking notes on my story, so do you really need to ask me this? I have things to do: like inform people everyday that their beloved dentist is dead, console them on their own shock and grief(many do not know I am his daughter), and “oh while I have you on the phone, can you please pay your past due balance?” That is what I am doing for me. My session ended and I had no list. And really, I knew I would not. I do believe you, friends, when you say it is “a process.” I GET IT!
The process has started with some “What About Bob” ‘baby steps baby steps’. Because, as I look to the soon to be end of the immediate and daily torture of closing my father’s thirty two year old legacy, I know there will be new feelings and new emotions and challenges that will arise. I have feelings of elation when I envision turning over the keys of the space we lease, but at the exact same moment I am filled with sadness and loss. I can’t wait for the day I do not have to go in that building, yet that building and busyness is comfort and familiarity.
So, “grief counseling” may be part of this journey. I scheduled a two week follow up. What I am finding, though, is the very best counseling and ‘therapy’ comes in many forms. Sitting with a friend eating Cheeze its(the regular not reduced fat) as she listens to you vent. Receiving unexpected and precious gifts and words of encouragement from friends and strangers alike. Having a great workout at the gym or meeting a new neighbor for a walk…..and deciding to write this morning instead of cry.
Anne Lamott says, “Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.”
Thank you sweet friends for allowing me to write, reading my words, and encouraging me. We are all always ‘in process’ and learning. Glad we have each other to lean on and learn from. May we choose to grow and be strengthened in the midst of our trials. It is not about moving past someone or “getting over it.” It is about choosing joy in the suffering, and not forgetting our Sovereign and Divine God.
I will leave you with more from Ms. Lamott: “You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
Let’s dance. Let’s boogie with our limps!