Grief changes shape, but it never ends.
I'm never quite sure how I'll respond during this time of year. Will the tears or anxiety crop up in March? In April? Or will they sit in silence and perhaps stay dormant when the Preakness, the day following, and May 19 all converge on the calendar?
This year, the memories started to creep into my everyday thoughts in March. It's the month we met in 1994, and also the month in 2002 where I fully realized that the sickness of addiction clearly had Joey in its grip. I knew he was dying, but this knowing was more like words floating above my head in a quotation bubble. I said it often. I cried a lot. I searched, I felt hopeless.
Those memories continued to knock at the door of my heart in April. Even May 1, my 49th birthday. But they didn't really break through until last week. One week before the anniversary. Such a strange word to recognize the loss. Anniversary.
There's no way to explain the power of grief. It surfaces at unexpected times and often through unremarkable events. There have been years when it takes a little time for me to diagnose the emotion as the residual and recurrent process of grieving. Someone once explained, "it is now programmed into you at the cellular level--you won't even need a calendar, your body will remember." I suppose this is why I can't pinpoint when something will surface.
If you want more of the backstory about Joey, I've written about it here.
Twelve years has allowed me to pull forward all of the good memories. I don't spend time thinking about Joey's pain. I'd rather think about his true essence and the lasting impact he's had within my heart.
There's no pithy ending to today's post. It's simply a way for me to continue to honor Joey's life.
Joey, on Wireless, in 1999. Maryland Tuna Tournament, in the fighting chair.