The past fifty-four days of my life have been emotionally, psychologically and physically challenging. My sorrow has frequently consumed me. Each and every day has been a struggle, exhausting every ounce of my emotional, mental and bodily strength. By the time my head hits the pillow each night, I am weary and hollow. My eyes are swollen and empty of tears. My exhaustion brings an easy and mostly peaceful sleep, which is often my only solace. As if the first fifty days without Mack were not difficult enough, the past four days have been devastating. Enduring my first holiday in twenty years without Mack has exacted a particularly damaging toll on my already delicate psyche. My tears have been more numerous and more bitter. I have experienced my first, dreaded angry moments in this terrible grieving process. And in my head I have done battle with some terrifying demons who threaten to steal me away entirely.
Because this holiday weekend was so damned hard for me, I thought I should make an attempt to record it. Since I started this blog, I have spent most of my words sharing stories about Mack’s life and celebrating her incomparable personality and charms. But today I wanted to focus on my pain. On my suffering. On my ruined life. But all afternoon and this evening I just stared at a blinking cursor as it mocked my intentions, questioned my courage, and dared me to expose my heartbroken soul. As I struggled to write a second paragraph about my feelings, no more words were forthcoming. Instead, my mind kept drifting to a ridiculous photograph that Mack texted me a year or two ago. She and her roommates had made a run to the Kirksville Walmart to purchase survival items like Ramen noodles, Gatorade and candy and found themselves in the clothing department trying on adult-sized footie pajamas. In the photo, Mack looks like a deranged pink bunny. When I originally received that photo, I laughed so hard that I cried.
Tonight, thinking about that stupid photo was keeping me from crying. Each time my mind drifted to that image, the corner of my mouth ticked upward in defiance of my purpose to pour out my emotions onto the page. On nearly every day that I ever spent with Mack, she made me laugh. And here she was again trying to make me laugh when I was trying to be serious. Here she was again reminding me that laughing was a whole hell of a lot better than crying. I could hear her imploring me to finish up this hard stuff so that something silly or fun could take its place.
I finally decided that perhaps the one paragraph was all I needed to write. Perhaps those words were the only words necessary. But mostly, I think, Mack’s humor rescued me at the very moment I needed to be rescued. I am still battered and bruised from my first holiday without her, and I will be weary and hollow when my head hits the pillow tonight. But thanks to Mack, I found a way to smile today. And she would be amused to know that help arrived in the form of a big pink bunny.