I may have mentioned once or twice (snort) how much I love the holidays. And I really do. I love how happy everyone is. I love how everything is sparkly and decorated. I love coming home every day to a huge Christmas tree.
I was sitting at my parents house last week right before Christmas when I started looking around. In an unexpected twist, my parents had put up their decorations already, and the house was cozy and Christmas-y and awesome. I was taking it all in: the tree, the lights, the stockings over the fireplace. Christmas cheer was everywhere.
And you know what else was everywhere? Leftover flowers that were sent to us after my grandfather passed away.
Okay, they weren't everywhere. But you know how, after someone dies, people typically send those big flower arrangements to you to express their condolences? My parents still have a few of those sitting around the house. Several are sitting in front of the fireplace, right underneath our stockings.
They've been dead for a few months now. I'm not sure why my mom has let them sit there for so long, but I imagine it's the same reason that I've had a used coffee cup riding around in my car for a month or so. It's from when Kelsey visited, and I just can't throw it away. When we were in college (and she lived ten minutes away instead of ten hours), my car always always had used coffee cups in it. Cups from Tate Street Coffee and Starbucks and Port City Java that I only threw out when there was a new one to take its place a few days later. Now, our coffee trips are much less frequent. My car stays cleaner, but I'm much more lonely (and uncaffeinated) without my best friend around.
Even if they're dead, throwing them away is hard. To me, there's some comfort in keeping them around. It makes it seem like it wasn't THAT long ago that my grandpa was alive.
Grief is weird because it just hangs out. Indefinitely. It's not constant, it's not all-encompassing, it's just there. You don't think about it all the time, but you know it's there. How do you balance grief with, you know, trying to live your life? I feel guilty trying to push it out of my mind, because I don't want to forget. I don't want to ignore his memory.
And then we get to the point we're at now. It's the new year. All traces of the holidays are gone... the stockings have been put away and the confetti has been swept up. You're back to your regular life.
It's the same with death. Someone dies, and you spend a certain amount of time grieving that person. But eventually, you stop. Eventually, you put it all away and go about your life. You remember the time where you were grieving, but it becomes a memory. Something you did last week, last month, last year. Just like everything else, you package it away. As weird as it is, eventually, it's something that you think about and (hopefully) smile. It's still hanging out, but you've figured out how to organize it. It's there when you need it, because sometimes, you need to grieve. But you've figured out how to manage it. Somehow.