No Grief is an Island

One of my spots on Kwajalein for reflection. Photo by Greg Vessar.
       Grief, when viewed through an objective lens, is simply deep sadness due to loss. But grief is more subjective and is different for each individual’s experience. No two grief experiences are exactly the same, although they are created from a similar experience; loss.
       Sadly, I have had my fair share of loss.  I am not implying that I am the only one that has experienced loss and its emotional toll. It is one of the events we all share as humans, yet we all experience and work through grief differently. I am still grieving more than one loss.
       Recently, a little over a year ago, my brother-in-law and friend, Mike “Mikey-G” Graham, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. In the midst of that loss, I moved to a remote island in the Pacific to teach, isolated from the support of family and friends. My wife remained in Korea, grieving her brother with little to no support or comfort, handling a long-distance marriage, and all of this while far from family and friends. In hindsight, not the best idea for her or me.
       But there are no roadmaps for grief. No instruction book that lists what we, those left behind, are supposed to do and how we are supposed to react. Melissa and I spoke every day and sometimes twice in one day. I understand now that I was not really present on that island. My mind and emotions were always back in Korea, Kansas, or Virginia. I did not live my best life  and I did not give that island my best. I’m reminded of Yoda’s words as he scolded Luke in the swamps of Dagobah, “Never his mind on where he was... what he was doing.” 
       So, as soon as the school year was complete, I was on the first flight back to civilization. And that was the right choice for Melissa, my family, and me. Here in Korea with Melissa is right where I need to be. Where I should be. Where I want to be. Now I can continue my “Jedi grief training” with the help and love of family and I can also provide support. 
       Grief is something that just does not go away. It hides inside us and attacks when least expected. How we react to that ambush allows us to grow and move forward. We all do that differently…and that’s okay. I am still working through some of those experiences, even many years removed.
       And sometimes that pain of loss overwhelms me like a rogue wave. Drowning me with loss and sadness, but I have  life preservers: God, Melissa, family, and  memories. I hang on to them with all of my strength and fight my way to the surface. And when I emerge from the flood of grief, I do so with a smile and a fullness in my heart because I was not alone. 
       And I remain. 

© 2022 Gregory Vessar. A Thousand Miles from Kansas. All Rights Reserved.

The ever wise, Master Yoda.
Categories: Family, Grief, Love, Memoir, PhilosophyTags: , ,
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