Jeremy’s dad passed away suddenly on Sunday and we are devastated. Having a parent die is a club that we’ve watched some friends join in recent years and now it looks like we are members, too. It’s terrible. Right now I am leaning hard on that Ball in the Box analogy about grief that a friend shared and which I find to be tremendously helpful. To use that analogy, right now I think that the box my grief is rolling around in is also filled with the jumble of the increased demands of work and family and everyday life since Jeremy is in the US. So the grief button is fully depressed right now but I can’t feel it since there is so much other stuff in there right now, taking up space. To be short: I definitely haven’t been feeling my feelings. I can’t, not right now. I’ve got this work I need to do (and which keeps the feelings at bay and has been a blessing) and these errands to run and these kids whose feelings I need to help them feel.
Friends and coworkers have been so kind about checking in and asking what they can do to help and what I want to say is, “yes, could you please feel my feelings for me and give them back when it’s all done?” but I can’t. Can I?
It’s like this grief is a dark corner I can’t look into, a movie I want to skip to the end of, a book that is just going to stay on the shelf and get dusty forever, thanks. And it keeps expanding. I am sad for myself to have lost a father-in-law. And then I gasp because Jeremy lost his dad! And my kids lost their grandpa. And my mother-in-law lost her husband! I am sad for all of us, over and over again, in circles. It’s all so terrible and it’s like a drop in a pond where the ripples just keep going and you can’t stop it.
This morning Magdalena had a dentist appointment and they were running late and came out to tell me so. I had other time-sensitive stuff going on so it wasn’t super to hear that my precariously balanced plates that I had only JUST gotten spinning for the day and which I wasn’t sure I had the emotional energy to pick up and get spinning again were about to be toppled over. She must have seen something in my face because she hesitantly asked, “do we need to reschedule?” but with just a touch of defensiveness in her tone and so help me I almost burst into tears right then. I was this close to saying “My father-in-law just died and my husband is in the US and I have all these feelings I can’t feel and can you please just make it all go away” but instead I said “no, it’s fine, we can wait.”
Here is Stanley Palmer’s obituary. The picture at the top of this blog post is of Sterling having the time of his little 3-year-old life in 2017 when he got to take a ride in the old Model A that Grandpa Palmer was restoring. I’ve written before about mundane superpowers that we all have and what they don’t tell you in that seriously fantastic obituary is that one of Stan Palmer’s mundane superpowers was that he was so good at watching TV with you. He was always willing to watch whatever and could suggest things for you if you weren’t sure what was on. This mundane superpower was especially helpful with kids (particularly grouchy ones) who would always, always perk up if you asked, “hey, do you want to go watch TV with Grandpa?” And Grandpa, bless his heart, would watch whatever the kid wanted to watch and, if required, answer 1327 questions about it (this was definitely required with Sterling).
The kids and I have been listening to ABBA in Grandpa’s honor. He loved ABBA. This is something that he and I really connected over in the summer of 2018 when he and Janice came to visit Finland. I played the Mamma Mia 2 soundtrack in the car and he made sure to mention that the original ABBA harmonies were better (he’s not wrong) but he absolutely was here for the newer versions, too. I got to fangirl about specific ABBA songs with him (I never get to do this with ANYBODY so it was a treat for me) and he introduced me to Chiquitita and said it was his favorite and we listened to it. His other favorite was Fernando. What can I say? He had excellent taste in music!
When Jeremy and I got married we had one of those receiving lines at our reception at my house. Jeremy and I have laughed for years about how his dad would say to everyone whose hand he shook, “Stan is my name.” It was just the MOST Stan thing. Maybe he’s meeting a lot of people right now, some who already know him and have welcomed him, but others maybe for the first time and he’s shaking their hands and saying, “Stan is my name.”