My family and I are in a paradise of a vacation locale, one that we come to every year. This is the first year (in maybe, 20?) that I have ever come on this trip without my dad.
So here is what is on my mind today…
It’s a funny thing when you lose someone close to you. It takes while for your brain to reset its autopilot feature.
For example, for weeks after dad died, I’d pull into my parents’ driveway, see my dad’s car and think, “Oh good, dad’s home!” It would only happen for a split second – I mean, I knew he was gone, of course…but like I said – autopilot brain.
For months one might do things like setting one too many places at the dinner table, or turning to connect with a grin or a wink over an inside joke…only to remember their loss.
Autopilot brain strikes again.
After a while you move past this – you stop expecting to find your loved one in every familiar corner. When I visit my mom, I no longer hear someone coming through the front door and “forget” for that split second that its not my dad.
What I’m learning, though, is that with each new/old experience (something or someplace that’s familiar, but you’ve not yet experienced apart), your autopilot brain needs a chance to adjust all over again.
So here, on this trip…I still expect him to come through the door with a coffee in the morning. I still see someone walking down the beach toward me and think it might be him. I still expect to see him, drink in hand, as we gather as a group for dinner…
The autopilot brain doesn’t mean any harm. Maybe it’s lazy. Maybe it just gets overly excited to fire those feel good endorphins.
Either way, it hurts.