Today we spoke of you with fewer tears, but as I drove home tonight thinking of you in the ground beside my street, my chest tightened up. Then I started thinking about being in there with you, and I got scared.
I'm getting sick of holding onto the brave face. I welled up today when Surly-K asked me what you looked like on Saturday. She raised her eyebrows and pointed me towards the Kleenex. I kept it together, but I was a little resentful of her and her quick-yet-complete grief cycle. She knows how to do it, and spares no expense. But she's got it down to a science.
I went and saw Dr. Brainscan today. He told me that grief comes in three stages: denial (or disbelief), disorganization or confusion, and repair. During the second stage, he said there are five emotions to be felt: sadness, reconciliation, anger, acceptance, and recovery. He said people make mistakes in denying feeling the grief, and others stay too busy to really feel it. He said it's best if I make time every day to just 'sit' with you. I told him that I really didn't feel it necessary to feel anger. I said that anger is...ahem..."a manifestation of another negative emotion that I feel it is in my power to avoid bypassing." Blah, blah, blah...Gunny, I wish you were here to help me make fun of him. He never looks anyone in the eye; always to the left. He said I should have my thyroid checked because of my weight loss, lethargy, coldness, and confusion. I thought of when your doctor said the same thing to you and you had it checked. It was just as usual - turning you into a smartass. Then I thought Dr. Brainscan was wacko in giving me advice about death and my thyroid in the same sentence. Then he lobotomized me with a wire whisk and I had to take a nap in my trunk before I went back to work.
When I got back to the office, the MASTER DINOSAUR was sitting on my desk, staring at me. I remembered when I got back from Chicago and I told you how Dr. Frings had given him to me and about the married guy from Halifax and running in Millennium Park and loving Dali's "Coitus" and eating dinner under Suzy the T-Rex. Then I remembered the last time I called you in October to ask about Vitamin-G's gross rash and it turned out to be something entirely different. I still haven't taken your number out of my phone even though I am a little freaked that I may dial it on accident.
Yesterday as you laid in that box in front of the firetruck, I told GOB Jess that I expected you to push up the lid, sit up, and give us that grin that championed the phrase "shit-eatin'." He said it would be a really bad joke, but we got a little snicker. Funny how the loss of an old friend can bring together two old friends.
I posted your position today. As I was writing it up, I felt somehow sanctimonious. Making my demands..."Must be able to multitask while under pressure without direct supervision. Must be able to establish good rapport with patients of all types, as well as nurses, physicians, and other ED employees. Duties include phlebotomy and running chemistry and hematology samples in moderate complexity environment. Bilingual (English and Spanish) preferred." Implied was, "You'll never be our Beeker but if you can speak two languages maybe we'll settle for you. Our patients probably won't care but we sure as hell will." Here is the cruel reality of my part of this: I have to replace you. And I have to paint on a smile as I do it.
Here's where I move over into the anger phase of grief. At least I'm making progress.