10:36 p.m. | 2018-06-18
for the first time, at 27, i'm having to learn that there can be something so insincere about grief.
the last time one of my relatives died, i was eight. it was one of my grandfathers. i took it in a pretty acceptable way - a week or so of crying jags, and then on to the acceptance stage. and since then, nothing. the rest of my grandparents, all of my family members, anyone i'm close to: everyone's still here (knock on wood). i regularly think about how i'll react when someone finally does pass away - i'm so lucky to have made it to this age and to have avoided any of those losses (at least at an age where i'm old enough to truly comprehend it), but i can't help but think that when it finally hits, it will be disastrous. and judging by today, i might expect to be a hot mess.
there's this gate guard where i work who i befriended over the past two-ish years. as part of my job we spend a lot of time at the gatehouse checking volunteers in, and this man and i bonded. we laughed at the cheesy stuff that happens all the time at camp, the themed costumes my supervisor and i threw on at the gatehouse. we traded game recommendations: he (hilariously) subscribed to pogo, and i was always showing him some new mobile word game i'd downloaded. he lived to mess with me - every morning when i drove into work i was greeted with a "hey, little buddy!" and some smart-ass comment about how i was perpetually 8 minutes late to work.
he was always pretty gruff and not at all chatty, but we were at the gatehouse with him about six months ago and i remember my supervisor and i talking afterwards about how he just seemed off, different and sad. my attempts to exchange our usual jabs were met with a vague smile or nothing at all. and since then, he'd always seemed noticeably down; i knew he must have received some kind of bad news, the life-altering and permanently mood-altering kind of bad. he missed work for a while; we were told pneumonia. then he was back for a few weeks, and a few weeks after that, just gone. the gate guard that replaced him told us he had cancer, and gave us updates: he had brain surgery to remove a huge tumor. it went well, but then he found out it had spread to his lungs. and today, my supervisor told me he passed away yesterday. she waited to tell me until the craziness of our work day subsided, and then i ugly cried at my desk and couldn't stop crying the whole way home (she very kindly let me leave early).
the whole time i was crying, i couldn't help but feel a little silly. i hardly knew this man. i couldn't help but psychoanalyze myself, and i think it's because he reminds me a lot of my stepdad - we have a really similar dynamic, good-natured heckling. but the ugly sobbing i was doing behind sunglasses on the way home felt disproportionate. and i could barely get the words out to my boyfriend when i got home.
maybe it was the shock of it all that caused such a reaction, i don't know, but it felt insane to me. and yes, insincere. i felt stupid leaving work two hours early, as if i had a right. and within an hour or two i had the crying under control, laying with my head in my boyfriend's lap, watching 'chuck' and laughing at all the jokes. but in that moment i could. not. stop. crying. and i hate that about myself. i want to be a person who can handle devastating news with stoicism. but i didn't have a stoic bone in my body when my supervisor broke that news today. i was crying before she got the full sentence out.
i don't know what point i'm even trying to make anymore. i guess i'm just trying to say that emotions are messed up and nonsensical. and that i'll miss bryan, and i appreciated him, and i'm sad he's gone. i'm glad to have known him; i guess that's all grief really needs to get the ball rolling. no matter how silly it may seem.