I’m Irish: Cue the Melancholy

I’m grieving and have been for the last six years. I’ve been a caregiver for my life partner and my mother. I lost both of them this year – only a few months between each one’s passing. But my grieving began when I realized the two I loved the most were passing in front of my eyes. They were dying each day and I was dying with them.

My mother was much more realistic. When I commented once on how sad I was about her and Bill. She replied, “What do you expect? We are getting old.”

Bill was another matter because he didn’t remember most of our life together. I would mention things and he would say, “I don’t remember that.” I’d reply, “Don’t worry, I will remember for you.”

Being the child of Irish parents, you’d think I’d have this grieving thing down pat by now. But no, I don’t. The Irish way might involve wearing black and having the Month’s mind mass one month after the passing of the loved one. The Irish way might mean going to the cemetery every week tending the flowers and the grass. The Irish way might mean crying and weeping years after the passing of the loved one.

There’s a certain melancholy that goes along with being Irish. I cry when I hear O Danny Boy or someone has bag pipers at a funeral. The melancholia stays with me, always lurking, always reminding me that because I’m Irish, sadness is part of my history and culture. I have grown to accept that part of my heritage but I’m curating my melancholy my way.

I may be crying when no one is looking but I’m also planting my feet in nature, on this earth. I gaze at the moon, relish the sun rises and sunsets. When I lay awake at night thinking about my loves, I savor the light filtering through the shutter slats. I snap joyful pictures paired with snippets of song lyrics that communicate how I’m feeling. I’ve instituted “Cryless Monday”; I refuse to give in to the tears on Mondays.

I’m running with my puppy, Turlough. I’m letting go of grudges and looking for forgiveness especially my own. The more I open up the more I realize so many people are grieving – those who lost time during the pandemic or lost a loved one.

Being the child of Irish parents, you’d think I’d have this grieving thing down pat by now. But no, I don’t. And I don’t think anyone else does either. But we all keep trying mixing the melancholy with life and we keep going. For the Irish in spite of our melancholy nature are quite capable of grieving and enjoying life at the same time.

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