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  • Harry Jensen

April 16, 2020

Today was the worst turnout for National High Five Day ever. The Olympics, and now this?!

Last night, my lover was playing with wads of clay and, from them, erected five friendly lumps with round sides and big personalities. She then informed me that these Shapes were sentient. I dropped her off at her house today, and I promised her that I would take care of Goggle, Gelda, Lala, Shlümpy, and Yeebit. Cecilia is so wise for her age; sometimes it’s hard to believe she’s only a few months older than me.

I woke up at a staggering 1 P.M. today, a full twelve hours in hardcore sleep mode. It was a good day, of slowly plotting forward, and fiddling on the computer. It was also one of the days when you’re having a chat with your friend and they ask if your parents are (or were) religious, and then you get a tad carried away with your answer.

“So did my father really believe in God when he was dying on that bed in agony, far away from home, did he really?” I explained to my friend. “I don’t know… and also we were Protestants, not Catholics. Does that answer your question?”

Even when I’m not being forthright or dropping a wicked banger, it is hard for me not to feel like I am being too much when I talk about my father’s death. I do not want pity, but I want to be taken seriously, but not to be self-serious, and definitely not be so self-serious as to think that anyone would be pitying me…. Yikes, it’s a mess to figure out.

“Where there’s shame, there’s trauma” — something a therapist’s therapist once said. Grief is not simply a neat dollop of sadness, one ladle per urn; there’s often shame and guilt in the package, too, these and the other less mainstream emotions being the subject of many a grief group conversation. If you’re like me and have Mega Self-Blame Syndrome, it is worth reminding yourself that it is normal if you feel some shame with a death, even if it’s shame about your own suffering. What are the odds that it’s all your fault? Low!

In my better moments, I can say “the shame is not my fault,” and really believe it. Of course, not every moment is one of my better moments, and that’s the perfect time to go off and blog aphorisms about patience and knit my brow pensively. But, for right now, I will wait for the day where I will be able to whip out my Dad’s death certificate with a smile on my face, not ashamed to talk about my Daddy DoNothing. He’s a guy worth talking about.

At the end of our chat today, my friend asked me how I was doing with it all — the grief and whatnot — and I didn’t know what to say. This response, I have just realized, is one of the best I’ve ever given in the last forty months. Three years out, seeing how much I have changed and how much my father has changed within the fabric of my story, I am okay with not knowing how this story has all unfolded.


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