June 22, 2010

Father’s Day, and The Expiration of Grief.

The Main Event.

Yesterday was Father’s Day, which always makes me sad and at the same time want to hide my sadness. My dad died when I was eight years old and I have somehow convinced myself that I should be over it by now. Maybe because when he died I somehow told myself it was childish to cry so instead I said  I don’t care. I was eight. I did not shed a tear for ten years.

It has been decades since he passed. I am not sure where this thought came into being and at one point I adopted it but I always feel as if I have to apologize for how long it has been since he died of a stroke at 38 years old. As if I should be finished with being sad, as if I should already have tucked that part of my life away, neatly in a corner of my past.

Looking bored, watching a parade with my dad

” Hey Jen, just wanted to say I am thinking of you today. It’s Father’s Day and all.”

” Thanks. But  I mean, it was so long ago. I’m ok. I mean, it was so long ago. ” ( I guess I say I mean a lot when I am lying?)

What a load of baloney. Truthfully, it has been the Main Event of my life. Everything has been formulated around it and when things go Wrong, or what I deem as Wrong, I blame my father’s death: The Main Event. If he hadn’t died and left us I would have stayed in New York and published books and worn wool more and probably married a Jewish man and I would be rich and my nephew would not have been born with Prader Willi Syndrome.

So the lie is: I am not okay. I feel sad a lot. I miss him!

There is no expiration date on grief. It never gets easier.

Well, sometimes it does. But in the way that loss gets easier over time, that a root canal fades, that a heartbreak eventually becomes a memory. We don’t get over people, we just learn to keep going. Otherwise, what is the alternative?

I talk to my dad every single day during yoga. This is one of the things that really hooked me on yoga. That feeling of closeness with my dad’s spirit. I allow myself to cry. I give myself the room to grieve, even 25 years later, while I am on the mat or in savasana ( final resting pose).

The thing is: you never get over losing someone you love. I realized yesterday on my mat, in a pigeon pose, that I didn’t have to feel silly grieving for the loss of my dad even though I am now an adult. I give myself full permission to feel sad if I need to, to release that sadness so I can move on. The loss never goes away but my load certainly lightens when I let go of it instead of fighting it. In fact, this has become a theme of many of my own classes lately.

My dad, smoked four packs of Kools a day and was a comedian who would never do yoga in his life but he loves that I do because it has brought us closer. Unfortunately, I can’t hug him or have a glass of wine with him now that I am an adult but I am sure he is lurking. Somewhere. Smoking and playing practical jokes on all the people you have loved and lost.

Go ahead. Grieve on every birthday or Mother’s Day or Father’s Day for the rest of your life if you need to. Unlike milk, there is no expiration date.

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