WARNING: This post may contain triggers for some. Feel free to skip it and come back when I’m feeling funny again.
It was the day of my mother’s funeral. I felt everything. I felt nothing.
I was preoccupied with the endlessly demanding, tiny, minute tasks. I couldn’t process all that I was feeling, I still can’t. I’ve always been able to articulate myself, but to this day on the topic of my mother’s death I’m left with a profound sense that I have nothing to say.
All I have are fragments of thoughts, the stunted beginnings of sentences, complex emotions aching to express themselves but facing the brutality of an inadequate language.
So bear with me as I attempt to share a story with you. A fragment of one of the worst days of my life. One without a clear moral, or direction. A story for story’s sake.
Two hours until funeral time, rather than being present in my grief and pain I was desperately focusing on slideshows, printing pictures, setting up a display, calculating the time it would take to drive across town to accomplish these things and knowing that it would come down to minutes to spare even if everything went smoothly. Underneath these frantic thoughts, I was simply suppressing a multitude of emotions that churned below the surface.
Then I received a phone call. This particular phone call came from a social worker that worked with my grandmother, and she told me that my grandfather was refusing to drive my grandmother to the funeral because she had been disrespectful to his new wife the day prior and now my grandmother was distraught because she might not have a way to her daughter’s funeral.
Suddenly, my temper snapped. I am usually an incredibly calm person. Due to the amount of tragedy and loss I have faced in life, my cage is hard to rattle. That’s the upside to hard times, they make us stronger.
Not this day.
Rage bubbled up to the surface, blissfully eclipsing all other emotion. I had done everything for the funeral, these two adults simply had to show up and they couldn’t seem to accomplish this simple task without complications. The anger I felt was instant.
And here’s the thing; it felt good.
Suddenly, I didn’t feel broken. I didn’t feel grief. I didn’t feel pain. I didn’t feel sadness. I had fire running through my veins. My eyes flashed cold and hard with ice. No longer listless, I had energy fueled by unadulterated, exquisite rage. I seethed. I drew myself up to my full height, pacing my kitchen, cursing and ranting, barely restraining myself from screaming, about the immaturity of those more than twice my age. I no longer felt overwhelmed. I was focused on one this one, pure emotion. I suddenly felt powerful. I was a force to be reckoned with.
I remember the stunned face of a close friend, who in more than a decade of friendship, had never seen me truly angry. No one in the room spoke. It seems as if the whole world was holding it’s breath, teetering on the edge of precipice.
Finally, my stepfather caught my eye. He said quietly, “I know. I understand. I’m sorry, but you don’t have time for this. You have more important things you need to focus on.”
His words were like a siren call to my logic. I knew that swirling in that cauldron of emotion I carried had been anger at my mother’s suicide, anger at her and anger at the world. Anger at a broken system that had fostered this tragedy. I knew I was funneling all that anger through this incident because it gave it somewhere concrete to land.
I had a choice to make.
Taking a deep shuddering breath, I pushed the rage back down with visible effort and it slowly ebbed away leaving me once again anxious and afraid of the hours to come, the terrible day I still had yet to face. Leaving me exhausted and drained from a week of too little sleep and too much crying. Leaving me once again, feeling only heartbroken.
The allure of my rage was undeniable, but I had things to do.