Thursday, April 17, 2014

Death & Grad School series: Feeling like Harry Potter at Hooding

There’s this feeling that I haven’t been able to shake lately. Remember that story about the little Dutch boy who noticed water leaking from a dyke (i.e., levee in the US), and stopped the flow of water with his finger? He knew that if he didn’t stop that leak, then the trickle of water would ultimately intensify to a roaring tidal wave breaking down the wall and flooding the village.

Well, that’s me.

On the surface, I’m still me. Talking, debating policy and social justice, ranting about Shonda destroying my heart on Scandal, laughing, etc. And I’m busy enough that most of the time I don’t even realize it.
But every once in a while there’s a quiet moment where it’s just me and my thoughts…and these waves of emotion lapping against the surface of my conscious.

Those waters are dark. I’m afraid of them. I don’t understand them.

So, like the little Dutch boy, I plug the leak. Everything’s fine.

Except it’s not, is it?

The other week my cohort voted to move our law final from final exam week (and 2 days before graduation) to the week before (when another paper was due). Their argument? People’s families were coming into town and they wanted to focus on that. I was immediately annoyed and definitely shot it down at first. Your family is coming into town? #Kanyeshrug Like I care – don’t inconvenience me.
 I eventually voted in favor because I recognized the ‘dissonance’ I was experiencing (oh, #sagrad life!): I have known I am going to be ‘Lil Orphan Harry Potter at Hooding. And maybe I had some anger that I don't have people attending my graduation.

My brother will be there because he lives with me…but my dad died in August. And my mother doesn’t drive and isn’t in the best health (and the car got totaled in the crash anyways). I’ve always had my aunt on my mom’s side and I gained new extended family after the funeral on my dad’s side – but I don’t really think my graduation with my master’s degree is really worth a 6+ hour drive. So that moment when they asked us how many hooding ceremony tickets we needed? Kinda sucked.
This? Won't be me.
 So, the other day I was having dinner with a lovely new friend who was totally ‘student affairs-ing’ me (i.e., asking great counseling questions) and I talked about my more recent life commitments to take care of my brother and mom – and with friends I tend to be a mom-type. He asked “If you’re the caretaker for everyone else, how do you take care of yourself?”


I have singularly the greatest friends in the world, but I’m the caretaker type – I don’t see the need to burden the world with my problems. So why write a blog post about it? Because I know I’m not the only person who will be attending graduation this year without someone important to their existence. If no one talks about it, then all of us dealing with grief just think we’re each dealing with a bout of crazy.

While my relationship with my father was complicated and I have plenty of trauma, he was always there at all my big life events to cheer boisterously (as we low-ses folk do, ya feel me?). 

Not having that voice in the crowd…that makes my soul feeling fucking raw. Vulnerable. Untethered.

I didn’t even realize that while I was plugging the leak in the levee, the walls were cracking from the pressure. I’m cracking.

At least my cracking didn't involve inter-dimensional serial killer aliens? (Doctor Who reference)
I joked with my friend that I was just suppressing until graduation…and as soon as my professor hoods me, I’m just going to crumple on stage crying.

hahaha #butreallytho

It took me a while to come to this realization. This Saturday one of my best friends asked me when my graduation ceremony was, and that he and another friend will likely attend…and I started crying. And subsequently did as well when two local friends said they were coming today.
yeah, I basically ugly-cried in my office...
Ever since my dad died, I’ve felt like Buffy Summers. Just like in the episode “The Body” when her mom died, I have stayed calm & collected (mostly) in front of others, making all the arrangements. Taking care of those around me. Like her, it feels like the weight of the world is on me.

But it will be okay. If I’m Buffy, then I’ve got some kick ass ‘Scoobies’ in my life.  And even if I feel like Harry Potter sometimes, at least I have some Weasleys in my life :)

Geek problems = Unable to select just one reference. But you get the gist. Life sometimes sucks - but eventually it'll be okay.
As Bobby Singer (Supernatural) said “Family don’t end in blood”.

Shout out to all my fellow grad school peeps who will be missing someone(s) important at graduation. 
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God* hold you in the palm of His hand

 *Or whomever you like, or no one, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster! :)

Death & Grad School Series
1. The Integration of Social Media in the Grief Process
2. Feeling Like Harry Potter at Hooding

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