Friday, January 20, 2017


Wednesday was January 18th. On January 18, 2014, while sitting in a room in the ER, Kevin and I were told there was a mass on his pancreas and it didn't look good.

Two days ago was the anniversary of the start of our last adventure together. It may seem callous to call it an adventure, but Kevin insisted it was just another adventure, just another chance to be in the world together. So we were.

January 18th has become one of the notable dates in my personal calendar. I've been in this Twilight Zone life for almost three years now so I'm noticing patterns and disruptions. There has been enough time that these things are becoming visible. On January 18, 2015, I was consumed by pain. I don't remember much of the day, my journal is full of sorrow and longing. I wrote about it shortly thereafter here. Last year (2016) my personal pain was compounded by the loss of one of my cultural icons, also from cancer. I was full of rage.

And this year?

I don't know what this year was. It was an odd day. The sky was grey and featureless. I felt like the sky. Grief has become a deep part of who I am, the loss of Kevin a scar that runs through my entire being so I spent the day knowing the scar ached but not really acting upon it. I didn't spend Wednesday howling, in some ways I wish that I could have but it wasn't there. I worked. I read. I spent a fair bit of time trying to feel nothing at all and maybe that's the most honest thing I can say about the day. It may be that the convergence of national events and this particular anniversary were more than my emotional immune system could handle, so I just shut down.

There are no good modern cultural models for grief. Sure, we see images of people bereft in the beginning and then either "getting over it" or "never moving on." There aren't many good models or guidelines about what it is to live altered by a loss but to still live. To let life back in while never forgetting the absence. I didn't really know what to do two days ago. So I just lived. Maybe that was the best thing to do, though I feel some discomfort that it could be misinterpreted as no longer caring. Nothing is further from the truth.

Grief is its own beast, sometimes ferocious and roaring, other times docile and familiar. There are no rules for taming it, only the chance to look up and say Ah. Hello. Have a seat and let's see where the adventure leads next. Two days ago it happened to be an unusual calm, who knows what it will be later today?

I miss you, Kevin. You're right, in its own way it was another adventure, another chance to be in the world together. So we were. So we are. So we always will be. And maybe that's why I didn't need to rail, because the adventure hasn't ended yet.

(c)2017 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

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True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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