I remember that after my father died during my junior year of high school, there was a huge flurry of activity for about two weeks. Flowers, preparations, teacher conferences, hugs in the hallway.
I remember going to the fridge and eating a cookie from one of the seven platters we had brought home from the funeral; the leftovers were endless. I bit into it and stared at the green and pink layers, the jam in between, wondering at how strange it was that I was still eating the food meant to nourish us at the wake, that the food from this event persisted in our house, a physical reminder that something so surreal had actually happened, since if you looked around it was as though the world zipped up the hole his death had opened, sealed it up and plastered over it, and hung a picture over the seam to hide the evidence.
Few of the adults in my family checked in on me after those initial weeks of public grieving. But the friends I saw everyday - my teenaged sisterhood - checked in on me, looked after me, and loved me through it. And thank God they did, because after the shock wore off, the real grief set in - and that's when I found that most folks had returned to their everyday lives, and I was no longer on the radar.
When my mother died shortly after my 24th birthday, the same thing happened. It was a few months later, once the adrenaline had seeped out of my system, the teetering pile of folders and papers and contracts and bills and endless bits and pieces has been sorted. Then the grief set in.