by Gordon Bullard
June 21, 2021
Hello darkness my old friend…..
As with much of the world, I have been exiled to working remotely at home during the COVID pandemic. I do, however, occasionally have the opportunity to venture back into the office from time to time. On this particular day, as with so many countless commutes before, I started my truck, took a sip of coffee, tuned the radio to a classic vinyl station, and backed down the driveway. It wasn’t long before I settled into autopilot mode. The music soon drifted off into the background, and I was once again alone with my thoughts.
My mental wanderings led me to think about Cory, my 30-year-old son who died from an opioid overdose three years ago during a momentary relapse. I started to conjure sweet memories of him growing up and experiences we had together; the laughter, the pranks, the banter, the proud moments, those times of joy that we so often take for granted. As the train of thought went from memories to wondering what his life would be like today, a familiar sadness began to creep in.
As that sadness began to grow, coincidentally (or not), my attention was drawn to the radio as the lyrics coming through the speaker seemed to read my mind. “Hello darkness my old friend. I’ve come to talk to you again….”.
Those words instantly interrupted the growing sadness, and I began to think about what just happened. A faint smile caught the corners of my mouth and my thoughts turned to recognizing that I had just hit another pothole in my grief journey.
Grief is a boiling stew pot of emotions; ones that rise and fall with little predictability. Whatever the trigger, those events/sights/sounds/songs/smells can conjure up memories and the deep emotions attached to them. We often talk about how grief hits us in waves. In the beginning, those unrelenting waves batter us seemingly without end. But, over time, the storm subsides, and we are able to pick ourselves up, albeit still numb and sore. Every once in a while though another rogue wave comes out of nowhere and knocks us to our knees.
Somehow, we find a way to get back up. Whenever I feel that wave coming, I reassure myself that I know it will wash over me. It may last for a moment or longer, but even if it knocks me down, I know that I can get back up. I’ve done it before.
I don’t think the “darkness” will ever leave my side, always biding its time to creep out or lunge from the recesses of my mind. I now recognize it for what it is and know that I can walk with it with the understanding that I can get back up and will survive.
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