I thought of this topic a week ago and recent events pushed me to proceed with it. People see this ketchup bottle and don’t think much of it. This bottle was sitting on my computer desk and when I looked at it, I burst into tears. It’s the perfect example of grief.
No, grief isn’t made from tomatoes or plastic or even Heinz; I know that company makes a lot of things, but grief isn’t one of them. This bottle, the front label in particular, reminds me of my brother. My sweet, strong older brother who’s been gone since 2019.
See how the label is coming off? My brother and I can’t stand when labels start to peel off, so we help them along. One time when he was visiting Mom and me, he sat down in front of the open cabinet and took the labels off our canned food. They weren’t coming off; he was just bored.
We didn’t know what the heck we were opening after that. I got (what I thought were) green beans out for dinner one time and we ended up having beets because there was no label on the can.
Anyway, seeing the ketchup label didn’t annoy me or make me anxious; it made me so sad. And that’s what grief is and why it’s cruel. It’s not predictable or even rational. My therapist explained grief perfectly to me. She said grief is like a big ball inside a box that’s wallpapered with nerve endings.
Over time, the ball gets smaller and smaller but it never disappears. Sometimes, this ball of grief rolls around and hits the walls of the box and nearly cripples you. Sometimes, it just rolls around or remains still and you hardly notice it. When it’s still, you think you’re better and things will be easier, but the ball’s just resting.
My mom died from cancer April 19, 2014; the day before Easter. My brother died April 10, 2019; Sibling Appreciation Day. He had just turned 39. My birthday is April 29. Suffice it to say, I don’t like April anymore.
Our sweet boy, Merlin, crossed the Rainbow Bridge yesterday. He was the sweetest, funniest cat I ever met, and the pain is indescribable. Since losing Mom, I’ve made it a point to shower my kiddies with love and never neglect them. I play with them each day and make sure they are happy.
Merlin loved grocery day because I would sit on the floor and play with him with the grocery bag. I parachuted it down over his head and he would bat at it furiously and show his fangs (he only did this when he was begging or very happy) and get so excited. We did this every week for about 30 minutes each time.
He loved Amazon deliveries because he loved playing with the packing paper and those big air-filled bubbles. He would run at them and slide under them and have a field day with it. Grief now colors everything.
Our Mommy and Me time took place in the bathroom and kitchen. I would sit in the tub with him and love on him, then he’d follow me to the kitchen. If he wanted more lovin’s, he would “hide” under the table and attack me when I walked by. It excited him if I acted surprised. He was a terrible hider; if his head was covered, he thought he was hidden.
Merlin was actually my husband’s cat and it concerns me that he’s not losing it like I am. Hubby would say, “Merlin, it’s bedtime!” and Merlin would run past him and into the bedroom and get on the bed so hubby could love on him.
Now, everything I do reminds me of him, which makes me want my mom, which makes me think of my brother being gone and me being the last of my immediate family. Grief is never gone and will never go away. I’m told it gets easier, but that day has yet to come.