I thought about my father. He was a doctor and all hospitals bring his memory back front and center. I imagined what our lives would be like if he hadn’t died of cancer. First of all – I know we wouldn’t have to be in this horrible urgent care, waiting for hours and hours. I daydreamed about talking to him on the phone – telling him about my day, about Benjamin, about Kris.
Then the thoughts stop. They have to stop – Benjamin has disappeared down the hall – he’s deep into the radiology department. Ironic. Yes. Annoying. More so. He screams and hollars as I carry him back into the miserable waiting area with all of the sick people. The nurse put on some cartoons but once Benjamin ran away for the fourth time a woman came up and changed the channel. She chose Maury. Nice. And I thought there wasn’t anything worse than that freaky cartoon.
As Maury tells Chuck that he really is the father of his girlfriend’s daughters, we are summoned by a nurse and stuck into a dungeon-like patient room. Two hours later the doctor pops in. He’s happy, refreshing, he reminds me of my father. Uh-oh, there’s that thought again. What if…
Grief is a weird emotion. Now, eight years later, the grief from my father’s death isn’t so raw. It’s thick. It’s been cooking for a while. I can digest it. Stomach it. I don’t feel like I’m going to puke every time I think about it. We go on. We learn how to survive. We adapt. This includes grief over divorce, seperation or loss – the loss of what could have been. The loss of a life we may have once envisioned for ourselves. One of the ways to cope is to stop asking ourselves the “what if” and “why” questions.
Here’s my short list of thoughts I push out of my mind:
- What it would be like if my father would still be around.
- Vacation. I stopped daydreaming about taking a “real” vacation once I realized I wouldn’t want to leave Benjamin for a week … so until he’s old enough to behave on a real vacation and until I can afford one…forget about it.
- Sleeping in. Yeah right! Ha. Completely useless to think about.
- Careless afternoons in the summer … sipping margaritas on the beach or on an outdoor patio bar. A late afternoon nap preceding a night of club hopping. Yep. Definitely don’t let my mind go to these places…just can’t happen anymore. And if it did – it will never be the same.
- The future. I only wander into the future (mentally) on occasion. It’s a happy and frightening place, depending on my mood.
What do you try not to think about? I think as single moms – stretched so thin – 99.9% of the time – it’s a necessity to filter our thoughts.
An example – immediately after leaving my ex-husband I found it very helpful to keep my thoughts focused on getting through the day. Since then I’ve expanded them – thankfully – but during that first year, any thoughts begining with “what if” or “why” only worked against me. I know that once Benjamin gets older a lot of things will change … I will have more freedoms but for now – this is my list. What’s yours? What thoughts do you keep in the shadows?
(Photo: of my mother and father on their honeymoon)