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Incredibly weepy this morning when I was helping my mom put up her Christmas tree today. Not like I have lots of sweet, easily recalled, Hollywood-like memories of my dad at Christmas. (My dad  was around though not very present.) It was more like a visceral deepening of the understanding that Never Again Will I … (fill in the blank) with My Dad.

I went to a lovely holiday party last night. My first outing of any sorts since my father died in early October. Elegant. Warm. An annual event I’ve been to many times before. I think I knew 90 percent of the people there. Felt at ease. Among friends. Received condolences. Felt comfortable speaking of my father’s death.

Then, after talking, eating pumpkin pie and laughing with someone about foods that don’t do us right (for me it was fennel, for him it was allspice), I walked into the kitchen and someone there started telling me how they had wanted to come to The Great Gifting event I’d held to help offload many of my father’s accumulated possessions. He told me he lives in Virginia (I’m in Maryland); it was a weeknight; he couldn’t make it; et cetera. I understood. No worries, I thought.

I tried to respond.

But, I couldn’t swallow. I couldn’t speak. And I started to panic. I turned to one woman who 1) recently lost her father (and her husband lost his father, as well, within six months of her loss), 2) had helped me with sorting items before the gifting party, 3) had come to The Great Gifting with her husband and MIL and 4) is a fount of love and a open embrace of support.

I said, “I just ate some pumpkin pie. I can’t swallow. I think I might be having a reaction.”

She held my hand, put her fingers on my wrist to check my pulse, put her other hand on my heart to feel my racing heart…and to calm me. She and everyone nearby went into instant action. Within 60 seconds, I had a chair under me, James’s magical well water in a glass and down my throat, people around me who knew I’d lost my dad two months earlier; and while I was still panicked, I also knew I was safe.

The woman with her hand on my heart, Eúcaris, reminded me to breath, not just now, but throughout my grieving. To scream if I needed to scream. To let no one define my expression of grief, nor for me to define for anyone else (such as my siblings) what their grief should look like. We spoke. A lot. She shared. I shared. Much wisdom. Much love. And then I was okay.

Driving home, it started again. Suddenly, I couldn’t swallow. I tried breathing. Short and fast breaths; long breaths. Anything to switch up what was happening. I could swallow again. I was okay for a few minutes. Then it started up again and I couldn’t swallow. I breathed more, could swallow, then couldn’t swallow. Things went on like this for a while.

Then–in the car (what a great place for such expressions)–I went for it. I started to scream. To growl. To howl. To make whatever deep, loud, agonizing sounds I could make to pop the block and open me up so that I could swallow. Comfortably. Easily. Naturally.

It worked.

#community #love #support #thankyouoneandall


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