I’m starting to write my book, and you will be my beta readers.
Prologue: Defining Our Normal
To understand the impacts of grief on your life, you muddy first look back at your baseline. The baseline for our family was much different than most. My husband, Sam was deaf and legally blind. He knew he was not, what our society would call “normal. ” in fact, I remember going to a movie at a theater with him once that illustrated this fact very memorably.
We rarely watched movies in the theater because Sam could not read the captions and only visually stunning movies were entertaining for him. And despite what people will tell you, there’s nothing really stunning about a CGI movie.
Sams inner hard core trekkie couldn’t stand to miss a star trek movie and his love of CS Lewis, who he called Jack as Lewis would want, meant were didn’t miss any Narnia movies. His love of Jack made him love Tolkien so we never missed any Peter Jackson films. That was the extent of our film experience in theaters.
I think it was at a viewing of the hobbit that we saw the commercial. It showed a bunch of splashy art on equally huge canvas and at one part of the commercial on a huge black background were the words in huge white letters: who wants to be normal? Sam, with his overly loud voice when he doesn’t have his ci on said: I do! And everyone in the theater laughed.
My children were naturally embarrassed, but to them, their deaf blind father was normal. All we did was “normal,” to them, but to the adults who had to work in the larger world, we understood that we were not normal and the world did not conform to our problems.
To say we were comfortable with our abnormal life would be a mistake. An abused spouse isn’t ‘comfortable’ with the situation, but they have learned how to deal with it. It isn’t comfortable, but it is familiar. To leave would be dealing with unknowns, and that definitely wouldn’t be “comfortable.”
Our family had all the expected clashes and mishaps–Sam fell into the pool once and told my daughter not to tell me. God only knows how many times he walked into walls because he wouldn’t use his cane in the house. The kids couldn’t leave stuff on the floor and we had very little furniture. My father called my house Spartan. But it fit our needs even if it wasn’t fashionable or even pretty. We were familiar with our routines and our lives even if not comfortable.
We all wished we had more money and could buy more things even if we knew we couldn’t find a place for them. And if there is any place we were comfortable, it was at home. The logic behind it being we knew where everything and everyone was.
That home was where we felt normal, at peace and in harmony with the world. Normal was the people with a deaf in the family. The house on the street with the mostly blind man that had children guides because he was too proud to accept help from another adult, even his wife. The yard where the grass was regularly uneven until someone came to catch all the spots the blind man missed. Where the children walked behind adults waiting until they were needed to fill in communicating gaps and all the best movies we watched as a family had no words.
I’m telling you what was normal because that is the first thing you miss in grief, even if you were struggling with your natural circumstances. People who lose limbs miss their limb. People who lose marriages miss their relationship. Soldiers who lose a platoon member reserve an empty space.
People aren’t just place holders, but their permanent absence creates a black hole that sucks normal out of your universe. Like a missing limb, a divorce or a loss of life, the first thing that grief claims is your normal.
Like the soldier that survived, the man with one leg, the widow or the divorcee…You must now find your new normal and that is much easier said than done.