On Tuesday I wrote about grief: what I felt, what I’m still feeling, and what I’m learning in the meantime. One of the things I’ve learned is that grief is a process. It’s not an easy one, but it goes hand-in-hand with healing.
I was still drowning in my grief when I first heard about The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen. When I heard the synopsis, I went hunting for it, like searching for a lighthouse to lead me back to shore. And it worked. In Macy, I found my own fear and sadness reflect to me. And in following her through it, I found my own way out. When she mentions what it takes to mention someone, I think about our old kitchen, my dad clutching me to his side and singing his own version of “Let it Snow.” When she talks about the packages that keep arriving from Maine, I think about the box of my dad’s things and how, for a while, I thought I’d find my own message within it.
Over time, the book became a “comfort food” to my soul. Like I tweeted the other day, I feel a weight fall away from my shoulders when I read the words “Jason was going to Brain Camp.”
This time, when I recognized where I was headed, I went back to this book. During this reading, I paid a lot of attention to Macy’s relationship. Obviously, her one and a half-year relationship with a guy who wouldn’t even say “I love you” was different from my eight year relationship with the man who asked me to move in with him, but I completely understood the feeling of losing the one thing in life that makes any damn sense. It also felt good to hear Kristy tell her she was a prize and that she deserved better than a guy who was going to pull away the moment she got too close.
Still, it was the overall message about grief that got to me (again): how everyone deals with things differently and it’s okay to fall apart, how the people who love you can handle more than you expect. How things are always harder at first but they get better over time.
Mostly, Macy learns not to be afraid. She learns being open is not a weakness and getting hurt is not the end of the world. And even if she can’t talk to the most important person in her life and her boyfriend left, she isn’t alone.
My first copy of this book has more underlined than not. This time, I started in a new edition. Among the first things I underlined this go around where the sentences “Like so much else, I could not control that.” and “Shoulda, coulda, woulda. It’s so easy in the past tense.”
The idea that I am entirely help in this situation, that I couldn’t have fixed things, is hard. The idea that I could have is harder.
With my dad’s death, it took a long time to recognize that my actions wouldn’t have changed the outcome, but it didn’t affect my grieving as much (besides the added guilt) because, well…the outcome had happened and I could redo it now. But with this break-up, the hardest part is to think I could have done better, because I am always looking to try again. And thinking that way is so detrimental to my grieving and moving on.
But Macy teaches me that things aren’t as bad as they look. She teaches me that who I am is enough, even if it falls short in some people’s minds. And, more than anything, she teaches me that things do get better, so long as we open ourselves up to the possibilities.
So here’s to grieving. And once that’s done, here’s to the healing. Here’s to the entire world we’ve forgotten. Here’s to the first steps being the hardest, but everything being easier now, after time, after letting yourself hurt and learning that it might be okay not to.