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  • Writer's pictureGerald Tindal

Day 84: Foran tilbake


The days come hard. Seems like they’re harder more than ever these days. A double comparative. Day 84. Yesterday. Hence, the subject line: ‘foran tilbake’. A Norwegian phrase meaning ‘forward and backward’. A straight line through time unlike a cycle. Long stretches of time marked by both. Exchanging each other with frequencies that vary. A hope for one day with longer stretches of ‘foran’ and shorter of ‘tilbake’. Fewer exchanges of one for the other.

My career has always been about analyzing stuff. You know: educational stuff. How kids learn. How teachers should teach so kids can learn. It’s what brought me out to the UO, famous for its research in this area. It’s what took us from the Midwest, disrupting our life with family and friends to pursue a career. A sketchy move at best with low odds of success, but all worked out well. At least until you died.

So my analysis of stuff is changing: it’s about grief. Our personal grief over your death and what to do with it. What it is. No one volunteers to be in a study on grief though random assignment seems to be at its core in terms of experimental designs. It can’t be surveyed: questions can’t be asked. The conversations are not one engaged in willingly and indeed are to be avoided.

‘Foran’ seems to come from people. Dear friends and family. Through messages. Words of kindness that support and extend. Bring us into the fold. One day at a time. Distributed like stepping stones across a vast abyss of grief. Carefully. One stone at a time. Work seems only a bit of ‘foran’ and hopefully more one day. Back in the day, it was the charge and meaning for a chunk of value that often competed with family. Missed out times because of due dates better referenced as deadlines that demarcate time. A play on words now.

‘Tilbake’ is everywhere and slips into unguarded moments that take over consciousness. Lightning strikes. Overwhelming bolts. Primarily from pictures and images of events. Times remembered with you and family/friends. Mostly the good times but a sprinkle of bummers in between now reinvented as funniness. But it’s the divide between your perch on the edge of your life about to be and your life that just ended: life and death so quickly defined in an ordinary moment. Your position in the Sports Product Management Program, having earned the opportunity to study with the best of the best in the country. Your opportunity to be with classmates who turned into friends. And in this remarkable achievement, your smile and manner of moving forward with them as you did with us and your childhood friends. Little did they know, but soon did they find, that you were the real thing. Your five words from Sam and Ellen. Your nine attributes, one of them ‘Just let me show you what I can do. It’ll surprise us both.’ Your roll with people. And then your sudden death, removing all opportunities for this life in the program and beyond, with us, family, friends, classmates, and of course, your mate Mads and Murphy.

So you can see the words used to mark ‘foran’ are fewer than ‘tilbake’. It’s probably a sign of where we are in the process of grief. We love you so much and miss you more each day.


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