I imagine a lot of people are processing grief after first being trapped inside by Covid-19 and then, for those of us on the west coast, being trapped inside by wildfire smoke. Many people have been displaced from their homes, while some have lost their homes, their towns, and their animals. Grief plagues all of us in different ways and for different reasons. The big question is how do we deal with it? And can we make something positive come of it?
Five years ago, my eldest son died. Not a week has gone by without my grief bubbling forth, rarely at inopportune times, but occasionally even then. His birthday was the 23rd of August. He died late on the 25th very early on the 26th. It made for a hell of a bad week for me, a week filled with sadness, melancholy, and tears.
I’d been finding little gifts as I like to call them, things I find that seem to defy chance. Coins and feathers are common; the gifts are plentiful and varied. As I walked my puppy in late August, I remember thinking that I had run out of poop bags. Yes, POOP!! Buying them supported the plastic industry but I didn’t mind using them if someone left one behind. I found three brand new ones in different places, a purple one in the dog park, a black one walking in my neighborhood, a green one near my office. A year or more ago, I had found a whole roll of them strewn in the gutter. They weren’t perfectly clean but they were unused at least. I remember thinking to my son that he could leave me a whole roll somewhere. I remember telling him that I wouldn’t buy them, but I’d be happy to use them if he left them for me.
On a sunny day in late August before the fires came, I was walking near my office which is near the U O in Eugene. I spied something lime green in a yard, recognizing the telltale signs of a roll of poop bags. They were strewn all across the yard, brand new bags, just unrolled. It brought me such a smile. Simple pleasures! I grabbed those bags, looping them around my arm as I walked my 8-month-old puppy. While we walked, I gradually wound them into a roll I could put in my poop bag dispenser. Call it coincidence if you like, to me it was a miracle, clear as day, communication from my son.
Rarely does my grief pop up at inopportune times, but sometimes it does. I saved a bracelet from his Iranian family, a treasure from my son’s wrist. It has a solid piece where often a name is engraved and then a thick chain goes the rest of the way around the wrist. The clasp has 750 marked there and a word in Farsi. I always assumed that word said something about gold and never tried to read it, even though I had learned some Farci.
Saturday my husband and I were at a small party held by a friend, a friend originally from Iran. He was more of a friend to my husband, so although he knew my son had died, he didn’t know his name. On impulse, I showed him the word in Farsi and asked him what it said. “Shawheen” he told me. He wasn’t sure he’d read it right so he got his reading glasses on and looked again, but I already knew he was right. That was my son’s name. It never occurred to me that they would engrave it on the clasp instead of on the part intended for that purpose. A woman asked me if someone had made it for me. I told her about my son and then had to leave the room.
The grief bubbled up and couldn’t be held back. I didn’t know the other people well and didn’t feel comfortable crying in front of them. I sat on the edge of the bathtub for some time flushing the ache out of my chest. I remember I felt this stabbing pain through my heart to my back, like having been stabbed with a knife through my chest. Somehow the tears washed the pain away and I was able to return to the party and enjoy myself. Now I recognize the letters on that clasp. I miss my son. I always will. And I miss his grandmother, Maman Fahim, such a darling, sweet woman. How I’d love to hold her in my arms again, something I will never be able to do with my son.
FINDING THE SILVER LINING
Regarding making something good out of the pain, I write. I share. I hope you readers are able to use the information I share to help yourselves with grief, with depression, with anxiety, with spiritual growth, or any other challenging life path. I know my purpose here. As much as I would love to join my son, I can’t leave my other children, so it brings me great joy to offer my experiences to hopefully help others.
In my book: Evasion, zombie apocalypse with a twist that will leave you hungry for more, I’ve imbedded self-help information in the background. Check it out here:
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