Marco Carag

Expert er of things.

Feeling on Cue

The pain of losing someone close to you is a beast of a thing. It aches, pierces, smacks, numbs, shocks, and absolutely, completely crushes. But the worst part for me is that it sneaks. I never quite know when sadness will be jostled enough to completely spill over the brim and paralyze me for a time.

A year ago today, that which has been the dominant subject of my sparsely updated blog of late happened; my dad passed away. And even through the course of writing this post, I was a teary wreck for half of the first paragraph, and then stoic and nearly distracted from the topic the next. That I can’t completely control that can be hard to accept.

When I went home for what would have been my dad’s 69th birthday last August, I thought the brim would spill over right from the get-go — that the whole weekend would have been painful and cathartic. It wasn’t… I found enough distractions in being home, with family, my 9-month-old nephew, and the new bustle of fresh development in my hometown. There was a brand new commuter train station, surrounded by new malls in previously empty fields, and high rise apartments — black spires piercing a sky that had been clear blue and empty for generations. Even my old neighbor’s house was torn down, replaced, and a new young family moved in. There wasn’t much to allow sentimentality to take root during the short two days I was there.

I don’t know what I had in the way of expectations — probably very few of them at all. But I was hoping, after a difficult week leading up to it, that the weekend would be emotional. And when it still wasn’t, leading up to returning to New York, I was frustrated. I was reminded that the triggers for my sadness are often unpredictable. I can’t just plan to emote in a certain way at a certain time — humans don’t work that way, least of all me. Sometimes the right song will catch me in just the right way. A second listen may sound completely bland, instead.

A worthwhile distraction in my nephew, with his mom, my sister.
A worthwhile distraction in my nephew, with his mom, my sister.

In the time since, I’ve had my moments — some made sense, others didn’t. I realize in general that I need to achieve a certain level of isolation from the world — I’m sure meditation would be effective for controlling this were I to learn it. But the most important learning, that I constantly have to repeat to myself, is to allow the moments to happen, as best I can wherever and whenever I am. And maybe even more importantly for me, to allow them to not happen if they just aren’t going to. The problem I have with not emoting in the way I want to is a tendency to try to force it, and instead being left with numbness. And that’s worse territory to be in. Not being hard on myself and trying to force it is a skill I’m learning very slowly, but it might be the most important one to learn.

Anyway, I don’t have much more to say about this, and I’ve been a bit rambling anyway. But it was also satisfyingly cathartic after all. So at least I have that. Thanks for reading!

Miss you, Dad. I’m grateful for the growth I’ve experienced in the year since you left us. I’ve apparently got a lot of growth left to do.

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