ARRIVING home from work one innocent enough Monday afternoon, I was coming down with a mild flu. I’d already received sobering news; I had missed out on a promotion from a State manager to a National manager. I was about to receive shattering news at a whole different level. It was September 22, 2003.
It was about 8pm when, with kids all tucked into bed, my then-wife walked through the door and said, “We need to talk.” The rest is history. She told me how she was feeling. We argued. I begged. The marriage was over in a few minutes (though I couldn’t quite let go so easily). She’d been grieving in her own silent and unconscious way for months. My grief was seconds old. I drove around our city aimlessly, sobbing tears, my heart gripped like a vise in a flood of panic. How could a marriage that was never supposed to end be in such disarray? How could all I’d worked for go up in smoke with no sign of the fire brigade in sight? How would I be able to live without my precious wife and children?
That terrible day when the grieving starts is such an unforgettable day, as are the following days. I was rocked by so much change over a few hours period.
The day does come when we realise there’s so much more suffering in the world than we can comprehend.
Such a day commends us to pain on a whole different level to that of all prior experience. Suddenly, in a moment steeped in the tradition of horror, we come face-to-face with a reality we cannot live through — it seems that way. Life comes to be so tenuous that we despair of breath, and we wish we were dead!
The darkest of days is tiresome enough without other significant challenges — all of which, together, overwhelm and frustrate and polarise and confound. In the darkest horror of war we don’t get to see what happens to our loved ones. Yet, this grief is different. Our loved ones are pawns by their daily vocation. They try so hard, but not everyone will rise to the occasion of grief and begin the actual tremendously tumultuous journey toward a reconciliation they had all these years assumed would never happen.
Both parties enter the fray with eyes only for the loss. It’s not going to be easy nor will it be enjoyable to watch and play. When the grieving starts life stops; life seems foreign for a little while, which seems like an eternity.
2015 Steve Wickham.