I want to make greeting cards for dead people. Birthday cards, anniversary cards, valentines day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and cards just to say I miss you. Sunday is Father’s Day. Our counselor suggested the girls and I write out Father’s Day cards as a way to address our feelings of sadness. When I heard the idea it sounded like a good idea. Last year we dropped Mentos into every kind of carbonated beverage and watched as towers of diet coke and sprite splattered our back yard. This year the girls and I acknowledged our collective need to address the sadness and sense of loss. Cards seem like a reasonable way to approach this.
Having never picked out a card for someone who has passed away, I wasn’t prepared for the difficulty. Cards are for the living…”husband, you make everyday special”. ” daddy, you make me who I am”. ” everyday is better with you dad”. As the girls and I are standing in the crowd of people who have obviously never experienced any kind of loss ever…I realized making cards probably would have been a more sane idea. But it felt too late to turn back. We could have this little piece of normal life, buying a Father’s Day card.
So I searched for something that felt authentic. Alas there was no, “F-you for ruining the second week in June” card. Or ” thanks a lot, now even the good times are painful. ” or the ever popular ” I need to know why you thought suicide was the only way out, Daddy”.
So maybe I shouldn’t write the cards just yet.
Maybe there could be a ten page card that addresses the myriad of emotions that losing someone creates. Or perhaps there is a graduated line to match where you are in the grieving process. First level, ” where are you? I set a place for you at the anniversary table. Your steak is getting cold.” Next, ” arg! Now I don’t know how to behave on your birthday. That really ticks me off. ” Third, ” I joined the peace core for Christmas. Will you please come back?” Then, ” I couldn’t get dressed or showered on the same day so I just figured I’d call you, but I remembered it doesn’t matter that its valentines day”. And finally, ” I miss you desperately this Father’s Day, but I’m going to get up tomorrow and remember to breathe without having to remind myself.”
We all found cards eventually and thankfully I get to pick out a card for my Dad, Chris’ dad and Chris’s stepfather. Sarah and I had a total breakdown over choosing a bathing suit afterwords and I locked myself in the dressing room for ten minutes. So this year isn’t the year that we’ve adjusted fully. Maybe next year we will be adjusted, or ten years, maybe not really ever. Or maybe this is what adjusted fully looks like. It’s difficult to know. The card I chose was an I miss you card and I plan to fill it with all the stages of grief that I feel: Anger, sadness, loss and love.