It’s been less than two weeks since I was in Korea. It feels like an entire lifetime and also, like yesterday. This may partly be due to my exceptionally unusual sleeping schedule. I will never be an international jet-setter. My body would like me to choose a side of the international date line and stay put. I think I’m finally able to wake up in the morning time and recognize what day of the week it is. Today’s Monday, right?
I still get easily exhausted by doing things. Basically, any day I have more than three things to do, it makes me need to curl into a ball or fall haphazardly into my bed. I’ve been sorting a lot of papers, my papers, my mother’s papers, strewn-about boxes of paper my father left with scraps imprinted with his lengthy, messy scrawl. I especially like the box of cotton balls and bottle of nail polish remover he packed with the label “Ginger’s Crap and plastic thing.” I’ve been answering a lot of questions and trying to remember what life is like in Meeguk (America). What I’ve surmised is that Meeguk is a place where I have to fake it a lot of the time; mostly, I have to pretend I have a lot of answers to questions I barely hear, or pretend “I’m okay,” because that seems to be the only acceptable answer to the many questions I’m pretending to hear.
I was forewarned by others that while my grief remains fresh and my father will forever be dead, not all of the people in my life will accept that I may not be willing or able to “hit the ground running.” Some people have good intentions that are misplaced as tough love. Other people have ignorant coldness which I have ignored for many years and cannot endure at this time (and may not wish to resume enduring). But what has been pervasively overwhelming, is that I have an amazing tribe. I have busy mom friends who answer my calls in the middle of the night and distract me with stories of toddling tots. I have couple friends who interrupted their anniversary getaway to make time for a sad friend. I have single friends who entertain me with tales of dating woes and triumphs and who let me complain or cry. I have lawyer friends who have taken time out of burgeoning careers to remind me how to be a lawyer. And I have people who know me inside and out, people who know how to normalize even the most abnormal circumstances, and have huge things happening in their own lives. I love my friends who have made no demands except to ask me to take care of myself and to remind me they are omnipresent, even at a distance. I love more that those friends have stopped asking “How are you doing?”
I am reminded everyday that I am loved, beloved, valuable (though potential employers have yet to discover how much they really love me – job searches are not fun.) Slowly, I am developing some kind of guide to recreating a life…something I was sort of trying to postpone by renewing my contract in Korea. But here I am – thrown back in and doing my best to build something new. I think the thing I like to remind myself is that there is no roadmap or plan to chart personal loss – people grieve separately, differently – and there is no formulaic answer that solves or heals or resolves or improves for every single person – even as they suffer the loss of the same person.
SO, the short answers are: NO, we are not yet “okay.” Some days are better than others, and none of them feel “normal.” NO, we are not attending family bereavement counseling and NO, at this time, I do not believe it is necessary. NO, there is nothing you can say to make it better. YES, there are times you say or do the wrong thing. NO, I will not be able to answer all phone calls and NO, I do not know the best time to call. Just try and if I can answer, I will. If I can’t, I won’t. YES, I’m looking for work, and NO, I don’t know where I want to land, and NO, right now, I don’t think it’s a good time to reevaluate my life plan. YES, there are things you ca probably do, but you should probably be more specific about what you are willing or able to do, because right now – we’re kind of in survival mode and we aren’t 100% sure of what we need until we need it.
But here’s the shortest answer: I love you all too. Thank you for those who try, who put aside personal inconvenience and replace it with generosity, who have gone out of their way to try to make things seem less uncomfortable. My appreciation is unending, and I will probably not remember all of the tiny kindnesses that have been gifted to my family… but I hope I will…