Last March I wrote a blog titled, “Death and the Cosmic News Flash That Doesn’t Occur” which was about having someone die and not intuiting it. This week I experienced a sensation that was somewhat the opposite – having someone die and realizing that other people didn't realize what has just happened in my life.
My mother-in-law, who we’ve been caring for in our home, died suddenly and quickly Tuesday morning. Even though she’d been ill for a few months and even though she had plenty of medical issues, we hadn’t thought her death was imminent, so it was surprising and a little shocking when she collapsed and died within a few minutes Tuesday morning. Our younger children had already left for school so we decided to let them finish out the day before breaking the news, but our oldest daughter was still home so she was very aware of what had happened.
After the necessary arrangements had been made, my daughter and I both felt the need to get out of the house, so we headed out for a drive. We ended up over in Portland where we picked up my oldest son and went out to lunch. The three of us sat at lunch, in grief and shock, and talked about what had happened that morning. Inside, we were still churning emotionally, but to the outside world we were just three people having lunch together. As we grieved verbally, holding back the tears, I looked around the restaurant and realized that we were in our own little bubble of emotion; nobody else in that restaurant had any idea of the trauma we’d been through that morning. Just as I felt that I should have somehow known when someone close to me had died, in that restaurant I felt that people around us should have somehow known what we were going through. There was no way for them to know, of course, but it seemed so eerie to be walking around, full of grief, amongst the world of the non-grieving. As I watched the people around me as they laughed and talked, it hit me that this moment was, in some ways, a gift; a reminder that life does go on. A loved one is gone, our hearts hurt, but the world around us continues to function and, eventually, we will function again, too.