When you’ve lost someone or you’re dealing with some type of crisis, some life-changing problem, there is no statute of limitations on how long it can wear on you. When the rest of the world moves on — when people begin to tire of holding your hand and giving you hugs and wishing you the best and cutting you slack — you’re still trapped in your life.

Sometimes people forget this. There are people who honestly seem to think grief comes with a manual or a timetable. They try their best to be sympathetic, but after awhile they wish you’d just snap the hell out of it. Some people even manage to get offended or outwardly express some disapproval. But even if they don’t — and, really, even if no one has given any indication that they’re losing patience with you — it still crosses your mind.

Maybe by this time, when everyone else is beginning to move away from the sadness, you’re incredibly fortunate and you’re at a good, healthy place. But probably not, at least for awhile. They move on, but you’re still stuck, trying to figure out what to do next.

I was thinking about this today when I found myself in sudden tears for no evident reason, and felt a need to justify and defend and apologize, all at the same time. And I thought… what would fix this? And suddenly I remembered a line from a really beautiful piece by, of all people, Dave Barry, in which he describes his mother’s difficulty after losing her husband:

What she really wanted was her old house back.

With my father in it.

Only having Mikey back would fix all this. Every other way out of this shittiness is imperfect. Every other way has some ugliness and unpleasantness I am already tired of dealing with, even after only two months. But he’s not coming back, and I have to settle for coping with something imperfect, that’s sometimes ugly and unpleasant: actual grief.

So to give my two or three readers food for thought, or at least the opportunity to read some really phenomenal, raw writing from an unlikely (but certainly talented) source, here’s the link to Dave Barry’s “Lost in America.” This was included in one of his books… I first read it years and years ago, long before it had any personal meaning, but it’s always stuck with me, and you’ll probably see why if you take the time to read it. It’s not long.


And no, no one’s said anything to me about snapping out of it. But I worry about it anyway…