My father's birthday.
Today, as on almost any other day, I understand what Fauzia means more acutely than I ever wanted to. I'm not sure if the pain ever recedes (or if it just gets stored away further and further from the horizon until you train yourself to stop thinking about things that make you remember). Either way, it hasn't happened for me yet. A friend once told me I play with my pain. I ignore it (in his words: I deny it) until it gets pissed off at the inattention and stabs me in the back. He may have something there, truly when it does make an appearance, grief is almost crippling in its intensity. But I've learned to live with it, and - in a totally perverse way - somewhat appreciate it. And to use it to my advantage when I need to.
Do you know I used to be scared of needles?
Give me cuts/scrapes/bruises and other random aches-and-pains any day, but one tiny innoculation and I freak out. My father was the one I generally turned to. He held my hand, made me laugh as the needle went in and did it's thing. With my father around I have donated blood (many times), got a ridiculous amounts of blood tests (thank you fulbright) and other random inocculation-type-things (thankyou life in general). Maybe it was his voice, calm and somewhat amused that his daughter was being such a wuss. Or just his presence - strong and firm - as if silently assuring me there was no chance of anything happening to me with him around.
But, he's gone now and a couple of months ago I had to go for another series of blood tests. I was beyond terrified and I missed him more than I can possibly express. The attendant prepared the syringe and as I confessed to him that I was somewhat phobic,he looked at me with an amused-exasperated kind of expression that said: yes, I've heard that one before. And then the strangest thing happened. I sat there thinking of my father - and my thoughts turned (as they inevitably do) to the harrowing events of the day he died - and I didn't even notice as the chappie took first one blood sample, then another. Grief, it seems, has the capacity to mitigate other pains, other fears, other traumas, other worries. And I discover I can live with this. I can live with this all-encompassing, horrible pain because it somehow gives me the strength to endure beyond it. To overcome other (less horrible) fears.
Life, my loves, is beyond strange. In my somewhat-limited experience, it's downright bizarre.