I’m an 80’s girl. Born and raised at a time where big hair was everything and my mother did all she could to keep me from singing “Like a Virgin” at the top of my lungs. Even now, when it comes to music, I’m team 80’s all the way. But when it comes to movies I am a 90’s girl through and through. Give me those 90’s teenage rom coms and hilariously cheesy comedies – give me Freddie, Rachel, Sarah Michelle, Leo, Julia, Alicia, Heath… Pauley Shore for goodness sakes. Give them all to me and right now. My heart forever belongs to titles such as “She’s all that”, “Never been Kissed”, “Romeo + Juliet”, “Titanic”, “American Pie” and “Clueless”. These are the movies my sister and I quote relentlessly. If you’re not a 90’s movie quote aficionado, don’t come at us, Bro- this is how we speak on the regular. It drives the people around us insane but we are who we are so #sorrynotsorry.
One of my favorite 90’s rom coms with extra cheese is “10 things I hate about you”. If you’re unfamiliar with this movie, my heart is sad for you because it’s everything a 90’s comedy should have and more. My favorite character is not Julia Stiles as the tough as nails older sister, Heath freaking Ledger as the bad boy, or even the little sister who is desperate to be popular. No, my favorite character in this movie is the dad. He is the BEST. He is the perfect foil for his two capricious daughters whom he is raising all alone.
Why do I like the dad? Because he’s a worrier. He sees all of the potential things that could go wrong with having not one, but TWO, daughters and he is perpetually lecturing them and trying to insulate them from tragedy. He is an all-star fretter. Much like myself – my new normal, self. If I could bubble wrap my entire family and insulate them from every land mine that I foresee coming their way, I would. No joke, I would literally do it. I’m sure they find this particular brand of neurosis amusing because I constantly see danger lurking around every corner and am doing everything I can to mitigate it. I am risk averse. I am pro mitigating disaster. I want to control everything because I’ve lived through tragedy repeatedly and I am done with it. Except, I can’t. I can’t control any of it. And that freaking sucks.
At the end of this movie, the father eventually relents and gives up his controlling ways because he realizes his daughters are awesome humans and it’s a fool’s errand to try to grapple for control. It’s simply not possible. I feel his pain…. I don’t want to give up on the idea of having control but, alas, I’ve learned I must. Control is an illusion and the pursuit of it, fruitless. Later, Julia Stiles’s character recites a poem she has written about the fabulous Heath Ledger and it’s the emotional climax of the entire movie. Her poem rhymes and is oh so very cute. My list of the things I hate about grief doesn’t rhyme; it isn’t cute. But it’s every much the emotional climax of my own grief journey- determining the reasons I hate my grief all the while accepting its place in my life.
10 Things I Hate About You (Grief):
1. I hate your heaviness. It feels like swimming through caramel and it takes everything out of me. I’m exhausted but don’t sleep well. I’m lonely but don’t have the energy to be with other people. I hate that.
2. I hate the secondary losses because you scare people away. People fear you and, by proxy, me. I hate that.
3. I hate that you never truly go away. Sure, the rawness softens over time but you’re always there. I will carry you forever and that word, forever, feels overwhelming some days. I hate that.
4. I hate that there is no road map for you because everyone’s grief is unique to them. I just want a perfectly curated plan to show me the land mines, the time lines, and all of the things. It doesn’t exist. I hate that.
5. I hate that my husband and I weren’t always on the same page because of you. These four babies belonged to us both and I imagined that our grief would be the same because it was a shared loss. It wasn’t. I hate that.
6. I hate my new normal. It took me a really long time to become comfortable with who I was prior to the loss of my babies. I fought long and hard to figure out who I was, what I wanted, and what I thought. You wiped it all out and made me start anew. I hate that.
7. I hate that you plunged me into a world with other grieving parents because the realization of how many families have been gutted by pregnancy and infant loss astounded me. It made me lose my breath. I didn’t want to go through this alone, yet I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. It isn’t fair. I hate that.
8. I hate the fear you’ve caused me to feel over every aspect of my life. I constantly search for the landmines, the missals headed for me and my family that I have no control over stopping. I hate that.
9. I hate that you are the price of love. I love my babies, more than words could ever express, but in the absence of their presence, I’m left with you. It’s said that grief is the price of love. I hate that.
10. I hate that I’m comfortable with you now. I hate that I look at you like an old friend, someone who comes in and out of my life as they please. You know my tender spots, the darkest of dark thoughts, and the relentlessness of my will to survive. You know it all; you see it all. And I hate that.
I hate it all, yet its familiarity in my life has become a touch stone. I know it as intimately as it knows me; it’s oddly comforting and I freaking hate that. But also like the end of the poem from the movie, I can’t bring myself to truly hate my grief because it is, in fact, the price I’ve paid for the great love I have of my four heavenly babes.
“But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you, not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.” -10 Things I Hate About You