Yesterday, getting into my car, it smelled like it always used to when it was her car. That is to say, it smelled like a perfume of cigarette smoke. Not lingering smoke, like someone had just smoked in the car, but like how everything in a smoker's house smells, if they'd been gone a couple of days, the way that scent seems to have seeped into every bit of fabric. I always leave my car windows rolled down while I'm at work, so it's a bit cooler when I get into the car and there must have been some combination of the temperature and the rain the sky was threatening that unlocked the last little bits of that fragrance. My grandma refusing to be forgotten. As if I ever could.
Today, as I pulled out of the drive at work, there was a Mazda 626, the car of my client's friend. He'd had one of those. Actually, one summer, he had one and his (now ex-)wife (or was she his girlfriend then? I can't remember) each had one. One of the 626s was yellow and we managed to "lose" it in the parking lot after a concert. Turns out we parked much farther away than we remembered. I made it all the way onto the highway before I started crying and even then it was only a few tears. That must be some kind of record.
I do not know how to communicate how this feels, not even to myself. I only know how it does feel. I know that when I start to think "Will this ever get better?" I can look back at how I felt when the losses occurred and know that it does not feel that same way anymore, though it is difficult for me to label the difference as "better." It is not as intense, not as overwhelming, not as painful, not as likely to lead me to disassociate from my feelings, more manageable. So I guess most people would say that it is better, but just because something is brighter than black does not necessarily mean it is light.
I thought that I would heal, that all these breaks were clean. A painful reset, a good bit of time in a cast, but then I'd be almost as good as new, except for some pain when a storm rolled through. And with my grandparents, I am. I miss them, but it feels... like it was what should be. I thought by now that I would be more at peace with more with my uncle's death, that I would be more healed. "People love that cliche: time heals all wounds. But live long enough and you realize that most cliches are true. It's amazing what even the smallest passages of time can accomplish, the cuts it can close, the imperfections it can smooth over. But in the end, it comes down to the size of the wound, doesn't it? If the wound is deep enough, there might be no way to keep it from festering, even if you have all the time in the world." I no longer feel like I walk through life an open wound, raw nerves constantly exposed, but I don't think that the pieces will ever fit back together or that the wound will ever truly heal.
And it is hard when you feel like the people around you just wish you would get over it already. Don't get me wrong, I know that some of them wish that I was "over it" because they don't want me to be in pain, though I'm sure some of them feel that they are "over it" and I should be too, while still others are just tired of hearing about it. How do you tell them that you'll never be "over it" without them taking that to mean that you'll always be the same brand of basketcase that you were at the funeral or are at memorials and death-anniversaries? And how do you tell them that everyday you are more accepting of, even alright with, the fact that you'll never be "over it," that you'll never be who you were, that there will always be something missing because the person who is gone is missing? "Who can say if I have been changed for the better? But because I knew you, I have been changed for good."
I think that I should be sad, that this should be painful. Pain and sadness are natural responses to hurt and loss. I think that feeling those emotions tells us how much we hurt, that what we lost meant something to us. I don't think that anyone should go through life pain and sadness free. Now, suffering is the thing we're supposed to be working to reduce. I'm not sure that the people who know me think I'm doing the best job at that either, but, meh, it's a work in progress. The point is that I don't feel like it shouldn't be painful to be without those I love, that I shouldn't be a bit sad when I remember them. Like when I see a Mazda 626.