Kara went to Heaven in the early hours of this morning. And I want to cry, scream, kick and throw things. And throw up. But I don’t. At least not the screaming, kicking and throwing things part. But I cry. And cry. And cry some more. Until I can’t breathe and my eyes are swollen and the tissue box is empty.
And then I try to eat my feelings. Try to stuff them down with pot stickers, pad thai and chocolate cake. But it doesn’t help. I know it won’t help. I also know this is merely the beginning. The ache won’t be going away.
I also know the preoccupation my Girl has with every sniffle Stephen and I have, every cough, every discomfort is because she is scared. Because she is the same age as Kara’s little girl. Earlier this week the kids asked me how you find cancer. We had a discussion about different kinds of cancer, different ways to detect it and treatment options. The Girl is now obsessed with me getting a mammogram. And I don’t blame her. I promised her I’d get one after I recovered from my back procedure.
I’m at a loss. I mean, Kara was vibrant and healthy 6 weeks ago. Her eyes sparkled. She doubled over in laughter. At least, she seemed to be, anyway. Fast-forward to today and her husband is a widower at 39. How can anyone wrap their brain around that?
Which brings a laser focus on this question: What is important in your life? Really, truly important? Like right now.
The answer, for me, has nothing to do with furniture or clothes or books or gadgets. Instead I feel a sense of urgency and commitment and drive I didn’t necessarily feel before. Like, she doesn’t have the chance any more to finish her declutter projects or other things on her to-do list, so who am I to complain or procrastinate? I pretend that she’s nudging me, telling me “You rock!” the way she did. Or that she will still find these self-help books that were by some far out author and tell me all the good things she learned and share them with me.
I don’t know if any of this has made any sense, because quite honestly I can hardly read through my tears – the keyboard is blurry, the screen is a jumbled mess. But writing, for me, is cathartic. I suppose it’s how I process grief.
Let me end with this: Go hug your loved ones tonight. Pick up the phone and call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Make time to send an encouraging note, text or email. Start telling people you care about that you love them. It will make their day and yours, too. Do it while you can. And then savor it. Even if just for a second. Then commit it to memory where you can hang onto it forever.