Monday, February 16, 2015
Guest blogger: My New Overcoat
Happy to welcome guest blogger, Gary Toye, to the Writing the Heartache Blog today. Welcome here, Gary, and thank you for sharing from your heart.
Not long ago, I got a new overcoat. It's very heavy. The fibers are dense, you can tell it's a quality garment, made to last a lifetime. The inside label says "Grief Brothers" It has the name of my youngest son embroidered on the inside pocket - below that, two important dates. April 17, 1987, the day he was born and October 10, 2014, the day he died.
This new overcoat is extra heavy, soaked with tears, so much so that it drips when I move. Sometimes I wonder how someone who feels so hollow can bear such weight. Yet, regardless of how unreal it seems, it is mine to bear. Every once in a while, I feel like a pocket or maybe the lapel may be drying out and my new overcoat may get a little lighter. Then a song comes on the radio, a commercial comes on the television or just a thought flashes across my mind. I put my hand in that pocket or brush that lapel and it's soaking wet all over again.
In one pocket there is a mask. Half mask really, from just the nose down. It has a smile on it. I put it on when I am getting out of my car to go into the store or in to my office. The mask smiles, but if you look at my eyes, you can see the pain. It's too fresh to hide completely. Most people, kind, well meaning, loving people, have moved beyond the terrible event that bought me my new overcoat. It's amazing how the world still goes on, spinning every day. Morning, Noon, Night . . . Repeat. A new workday starts, holidays come and go...time is very unkind to someone with a new overcoat. It selfishly keeps marching on, leaving me stuck in this place, yet somehow running to catch up. It's harder to run with all this extra weight, but fear of not keeping up with the world forces me move forward. Most days I'd rather stay in bed with the blankets over my head and leave my overcoat in the closet, unfortunately -- or fortunately, that’s not an option.
Friends and family ask "How are you?" and seem so relieved when I say "fine". Either they or I change the subject quickly so neither has to be uncomfortable. They give my arm a squeeze or a supportive pat on the shoulder. They quickly pull their hand away when they feel that soaking wet fabric not knowing what to say . . . where to wipe their hand. I wonder if they realize just how comforting that touch is or how much I appreciate them literally reaching through their own comfort zone to share it.
Over time, I'm told, my overcoat will dry out. Bit by bit, fiber by fiber, piece by piece. Oh there will be times a shower or thunderstorm will come along and get it wet again -- birthdays, anniversaries, his kids graduating high school or college. There will surely be more rain, but I look forward to the day when my new overcoat is mostly dry.
I'll wear it, you see, for the rest of my life. Taking it off is not an option. I paid way too much for it not to wear it. Money can't buy an overcoat like mine. Only true love can make a purchase so great. It is because of the love I have for my son, that I’ll wear this overcoat until the day they lay my own weary body down.
I look forward to the day I can hang it in the coat closet just outside Heaven’s door. I can’t wear it in. There’s a sign at the door… it reads “No Tears, Pain or Sorrow Allowed.” Hmmm, there are a lot of other coats in here . . . let me see if I can find a hanger . . .
By Gary Toye