I went to the grief group — “Living With Loss” — and I had a few minutes to speak about my story.
There wasn’t enough time to tell the whole story, obviously. My life, a decade of taking care of my parents full-time, the last year and a half with them in and out of hospital, even the aftermath (two months today for my mother), well, no whole story would fit the time.
Instead, I just talked about some challenges that I faced.
It felt like I was pulling big pieces of debris from under the hood, still hot and smelling of burned grease, and just dropping them on the floor with a thunderous crash, the clatter of broken machinery.
How can I be surprised that people don’t know what to say when faced with a pile of shattered, twisted metal?
My parents lives have to be put in garbage bags. There are a few pieces that will be valuable, a few as keepsakes, but mostly, well, garbage.
It’s my job to clear up. And that means combing the debris for stories before I dispose of it. It means making sure that the real remainders of my parents’ lives, their stories are stored properly, kept and valued. Turning that old brown cotton bole into the tale of a trip to Turkey that my mother cherished is just one tiny piece of a huge archive to be secured.
My brother and sister can’t really engage the stories. They are consumed with the challenges of their own lives. “In an information economy, attention is the ultimate currency,” and so many of us are just skint.
I know how to walk into other people’s worlds and enter their story, to help them get a handle on it. People love it when I do that, when I serve them. But entering my life, to engage my story? Not so much.
So I have to figure out how to do for myself. But there is so much story to pack up. Too much story.