When you have lost someone, there are days that you mentally begin to prepare yourself. For example when a birthday, holiday, or anniversary is imminent. For me, I would spend so much time anticipating how awful I would feel, that when the eventful day finally arrived, it wasn't as bad as I had predetermined it to be.
I learned in a psychology class that it is called defensive pessimism. Once I have entertained all the possible bad outcomes, I am ready to accept what occurs. So I view the worse cast scenario and then I'm able to cope. This works well for me, except for the blindside, those little moments when something unexpected happens that you can not prepare for.
Here are some of my past blindside moments:
A song on the radio that reminds me of him.
Finding another pair of his reading glasses tucked away. I believe he had hundreds and yes, I am still finding them.
Having to buy dryer sheets. Why dryer sheets? He once laughed in Costco as we bought a ridiculously large box of dryer sheets that they would last a laugh time. And when I took the last one from the box, meltdown.
Raspberry Toaster Streudels in the freezer case at Walmart. These were Mike's favorite and he always requested two boxes. He never quite understood there were six servings in a box. He would have a whole box for breakfast.
Passing by McDonald's. After chemo, Mike went on the McDonald's diet. He craved a Big Mac and a chocolate shake. For variety he would sometimes have a strawberry shake instead. After three weeks on said diet, he stepped on the scale in the doctor's office only to scream out "Holy Crap!" He had gained nearly twenty pounds back in just those few weeks.
Pink Bougainvilleas: Mike's favorite flower that reminded him of his beloved Senegal.
After you've lost someone, there will always be those blindside moments. I lost my sister twenty-four years ago, but yesterday I had one. I was riding home after work. The sky was a bright blue with huge billowy clouds that made a lopsided heart. I thought my sister, we loved to sky gaze where we would search for shapes in the clouds. And for a moment I was sad, overcome with emotion and I was ready to just have my own little pity party right then.
But then I thought of Dawn. The way she gritted her teeth when she was angry. How she was shy until she got to know someone. She loved babies. She would carry my son around as if he were hers. She was always practical. She loved the color pink. In high school, she wore Ozzy Osborne t-shirts and an old Army jacket, it drove our mother crazy. She was my best friend when she died, a fact that I never thought could have been possible back when we were teenagers.
It doesn't matter how long it has been since you've lost someone. Grief can make an appearance at any moment. But with time, that grief does not always overwhelm you, but leaves you with the warmth and feeling of the memories and love you once shared.