Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Surprise, it's your old companion!

I was looking for a term to describe how I felt on Saturday. It wasn't easy. Thanks to this culture of ours, my mind went in the direction of sports descriptions. And frankly, it does a good job of describing how I felt.

Blindsided.

Now, to clarify, here's the definition according to my handy source, dictionary. com:

blind-side or blind·side (blīnd'sīd')
tr.v. blind-sid·ed or blind·sid·ed, blind-sid·ing or blind·sid·ing, blind-sides or blind·sides
  1. To hit or attack on or from the blind side.

  2. To catch or take unawares, especially with harmful or detrimental results: "The recent recession, with its wave of corporate cost-cutting, blind-sided many lawyers" (Aric Press).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Sounds really academic when you see it in black and white, doesn't it? And when it's academic, it doesn't seem as bad, or as dramatic. So I must show you in more graphic terms what it means.

(image from here, in case you're interested)

Someone in that photo is about to be surprised by a rapid and forceful encounter with the turf.

That's what I felt like on Saturday morning. I felt like I had things in control, and then seemingly out of nowhere, I got tackled by grief. And like the quarterback, I was slammed down pretty hard, getting my wind knocked out of me. I was caught completely unawares.

Saturday morning I was sitting, waiting for my winter tires to be installed. I had my book with me and I was reading, killing time. And that's when I got blindsided. I had the sudden realization that I wouldn't be able to use tasks such as getting new tires to introduce my son, my Gabriel, into the world of men.

Really, a tire store is a guy's place. You walk in the door to be assaulted by the smell and sight of new rubber. There are tires and wheels everywhere. The sales staff are in work clothes, ready to help you and explain the world of tires to you. You have tires in all flavours, from sporty, to winter, to off-road, to the imminently boring yet necessary cheap tires for small cars. In the corner the popcorn machine churns out it's perfume (at 7:30 in the morning at that). There is a 24 hours sports channel going on the TV. You have a remote monitor readout so you can watch the guy doing wheel balancing. Techs going in and out, especially paying homage to the coffee maker.

And it hit me. I wouldn't be able to explain that corner of the world to Gabriel. Pass on the pearls of wisdom from my own father - such as "Brakes and tires, as long as those are in good condition, the rest is negotiable. Without those two, you have no control and you're not safe." As I looked around the store with a child's eyes, I saw all that needs explaining to a child. How to read a tire. What is the purpose of having different types of tires. Why we were buying four winter tires and not just two.

This little corner of the world had a plethora of lessons that I will never teach Gabriel. I will never take him for a morning away from home, introducing him to things that a guy needs to know.

Later in the day, Mrs. Spit and I went to a baby girl's 'tea party' - also known as an open house for this couple's friends to come and meet their recently adopted infant. I can't say that I was excited to be going, but we have to continue to live.

Mrs. Spit handed me the little girl to hold, though I must admit that she offered me the chance to abstain. I held the child in my arms, and even held the bottle while she went to town. It was enough to rip my heart out to hear Mrs. Spit commenting to others that I am so very good at holding babies, and that babies seem to love it in my arms. I wanted to hand off little Ivy and leave, now. But I couldn't - though I did take the first available chance to hand her off.

It's been almost two years since my little Gabriel was swept out of my life. I thought that I was doing pretty well in my grief. I thought that I had been through the worst of it, and that I could go forward with life with remembrances of Gabe, but without the searing pain of his loss laid open like a fresh wound sprinkled in salt. I thought that, since I was able to attend a remembrance walk earlier this month without wanting to run away to escape the pain, I was living with and adjusted to my grief.

The football analogy breaks down at this point. Sure, quarterbacks get blindsided, but it happens pretty regularly to them. As they are used to it, they are able to stand up, brush off, and carry on. I'm not able to do this. Instead, days later, I am still dazed and bruised from the experience.

5 comments:

Ya Chun said...

like you sad, blindsided.

so often, it's those everyday things that catch you off guard, more so than the planned events, like the walk.

Debby said...

I was sent here by Mrs. Spit and although I never thought that I would say it, I think Happy Birthday might just not fit, right here, right now. I am sorry for your loss.

Two Hands said...

Happy birthday!
You and your wife are in my prayers every day.

HereWeGoAJen said...

I'm so sorry that you were blindsided. Gabriel ought to be with you in person. I think of him every day.

Happy birthday.

Martha said...

I am so sorry for all your precious son, your beautiful wife, and you, have been denied.
Thinking of you as you mourn and miss your much beloved Gabriel.