Yesterday was the first day I ever saw the face of grief.
It was hardly like seeing a jump scare, or maybe more of those nights when I would be afraid of some monster or ghost that would suddenly be right beside me. Just existing, and I didn’t feel anything hit me, not like a truck or a metal beam. It grinned at me, and I did not shiver. Instead, all I could do is look straight at it.
I came down the stairs and there was already something uneasy and uncomfortable about the way my sister opened that door. Her face didn’t look right, it looked flatter. I had an inkling there were some tears, but I just knew something wasn’t right. I braced myself, and also couldn’t wait to get in the car. I sort of hobbled as quickly as I could to get in, so that we could be within the confines of a private space.
Something was seriously wrong. When I asked her, she just told me, and it took a while to register. Driving is the best way to break some bad news, because you don’t have to look at the other person’s face. So when she told me, I think I had to ask her twice. The initial shock – can I even call it that? I had several dead pauses before tears started rolling down my face. She was focused on the road, so she couldn’t see me at first. But it just wouldn’t stop.
I prayed and prayed and prayed, even telling God to take it away from me and give it to her. But I realize now, He proved my resolve was too weak. I said I would never want that life of my own, if I could give it up for her. Of all people, she didn’t deserve this. Of us three, she wanted it the most. But in the end, I am weak, and I succumbed to the fears and anxiety of my own selfish desires, and God proved my fears right.
I was quiet for at least a few minutes. It wasn’t a very long drive, but it felt longer than usual. I looked out the window to try and hide it, but I knew it wouldn’t last for long. I couldn’t stifle my gasps, and I couldn’t erase my already ruined face. I tried to bite it down for as long as I could, squeezing the ends of my mouth down as hard as possible. But I am not afraid to cry in front of my family. Not like my sister. She never cried in front of me, except a few times. The last time I saw her cry was in front of a judge.
She saw from her peripheral and that was when I just lost it. I didn’t wail, or weep, or cry profusely, because I just naturally am not a weeper. But I sobbed and sobbed while we drove, and she didn’t want me to cry, because she had already wept at work that morning. That made me cry even harder thinking about it. She tries to be so strong in front of us, and has always been that way. She even told me that everything is going to be OK. But I was supposed to be the one to tell her that.
Even worse, she lost a friend that day. It was the worst possible thing that could have happened at that timing. But I think maybe God spared her the prolonged trauma by delivering it all in one blow. So that she can recover from all of these qualms in life, and start anew. We’re both very faithful and believe this is not the end. But it still hurts, and I never knew this is how I will grieve. She told me she is going to be numb for a while, and I think it is something that will affect us too.
I’m starting to understand what many others feel now. I have never lost a family member that I love dearly yet, or any friends, or anyone close to me. What people feel at a younger age, I consider myself lucky I only experience this at 22.
It was not how I expected our dinner outing to go. I wanted to shrivel up, but then I also wanted to help her. I started bargaining with possibilities to explore if the worst came to worst. But this was the moment when I realized it was impossible for me to truly help her that way. I don’t have a steel resolve, and I think this is something I have wrestled with God all this time.
I couldn’t bring myself to sleep very well last night. I was extremely weak in the arms, and even today, feel as if the previous anxiety symptoms were coming back. I had at least two rude awakenings in the middle of my sleep, tossing and turning to find a good position, but my stomach churned. I knew I was sad, and powerless, and yet, I woke up the next morning, and didn’t feel like this. It was like everything was back to my usual. I loathed myself for it, because this couldn’t be true grief. Writing about it now, these eyes won’t stop blurring over.
How can I call this empathy? I try so hard to put myself in the others’ shoes, and to relate, or to share their pain. There is going to be a lot of waiting involved. And as long as she survives, that is the most important thing. Which means she does not have a lot of time to make the final decision. I think we’ll be OK. But when I imagine myself waiting beside her before the final operation, when we get there, I’m not sure what my face will look like.
When I told my younger sister, she didn’t cry like I did. I ended up being the one to tell her, because the older one was taking a while in her room, and when I finally tried to put it into words, I could not. I was silent again, for another minute, and looked down so as not to betray my face. And then again! I could not help the break in my voice. There is nothing more that I hate when others see me sad. In these private moments, I’m the most vulnerable, at my weakest state. And as much as I try to be like my older sister in everything, from taking upon the same course of life, to emotional and mental fortitude – I always fall short.
But the younger one was indeed shocked. She didn’t have much to say, and asked some questions, to which I responded between sobs. She said she felt bad for not crying like I did, but I think for her she was more shocked into a neutral state. I think she did feel sorrow for her, deep down, as she told me later.
So this is what it feels like.
I spent a lot of time yesterday working on admin type stuff for the guild instead of playing. Work keeps things off my mind, and as much as I told others that I wanted quiet time and they would respect it, it still did not feel fair on them. So I logged off and wrote and wrote until it was 6AM. I shut down, then plopped on my bed. I didn’t dream about anything last night. No headache as usual.
They say some people who are depressed often live as if they are sharing a room with someone else, often a dark and heavy figure. We all carry our own personal baggage. This one pains me, but also inspires me, because I tend to look ahead to the future. What can we do now to preserve as much as possible? What are the possibilities afterwards? The life she will have after? Deeply, I breathe in, and shut down once more. And there is nothing but a peaceful silence midst the Gray.