Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Grief: Path Out of the Woods?

I think there are a lot of paths out of the woods.  Sometimes though, like in the fairy tales, even if you put down bread crumbs to find your way out birds come and eat them and there you are - lost again.  I just received e-mails from two widows I hadn't communicated with in a while.  We seem to be going along doing things, living our lives, looking quite normal and then underneath that lost in the woods feeling.  Planting flowers in a garden making someone happy and then suddenly sad. 

I woke up this morning in the middle of a dream.  It was pouring rain and Artie and I were trying to get something sorted to get in somewhere and we were cold and getting more and more soaked.  He said he would go for help and I waited and I waited and he never came back.  He couldn't.  He can't.  Have to figure out how to get out the rain (my tears?) all by myself.  Have to figure out how to get out of bed all by myself. One foot - then the other.  That's the simple route.

I know now I'm doing something I feel better.  Yet, with all I've done - all these lovely techniques - I wind up with the same question.  How do I live with being in love with a dead man?  With a decided limp.  It's like having a leg amputated (maybe - I've never lived through that) - the leg is definitely gone and the prosthetic one doesn't work as well as your own - but I know someone with a prosthetic leg who came in second in a swing dancing contest and rides a motorcycle.  I just have to keep practicing and while I am always aware that someone is missing and missed - my choice is to stay in bed in the empty place (that is full) or to go out limping. 

I'm hoping to use the at home space to start writing more.  Not there yet.  Still haven't looked at the show DVDs.  I am avoiding that with such determination!   Sometimes all the positive statements - the ones I've learned - the ones folks say on Facebook and other places - seem like steel beams holding me up - sometimes they seem like distant echoes or lies.  I think it is all part of grief.  Even those two magic mind benders I went to work with - Richard Bandler said that when his wife of 30 years died he considered suicide.  He's remarried now - but it took him six years.  Frank Farrelly said that he can't look at a picture of his wife who died or talk to her without crying. 

Maybe that's the real path.  Acceptance of whatever I am feeling.  As long as I make an effort to be more than a rock lying in place! - assume that love and life and grief and pain and joy and memories and new events are all tied together in a knot.  The more I try to unravel them the more strength the knot has.  Good morning knot - there you are - I'm going out anyway. :)

On Saturday a friend is having the premiere of a film at the Brooklyn Film Festival.  I have been invited to the after party.  I always skip parties and run home.  I never know what to say in a room full of people.  (although I am totally comfortable on stage!)  I am going to go for a while and see what happens.  That's another path I've been using - follow my fear - try things and see what happens. 

Hope you find a good path today - if not, enjoy the woods. There's beauty in the woods too. xo

Monday, May 30, 2011

Grief: In With the Old, Out With the New (or vice versa)

It's Memorial Day.  My husband is dead and my daugher is in Seattle.  I suppose I could have hooked up with some people but I'm still cleaning.  During the Frank Farelly session he asked me if I make my bed.  I said no.  He said - Letting everything deteriorate, huh?  I said, Yup.  Didn't think much about it - but realized that my physical surroundings were so chaotic it was time to do something about it.  It still feels strange.  Everything looks pretty good - even bought a new cover and two crystal studded pillows for the guest room. Where is Artie saying, "I'm proud of you. Everything looks beautiful!"  Oh, I know he's saying it but not with his voice.  His voice only exists on recordings.  It's gone - along with the rest of him.  I know I'm supposed to do things for myself but sometimes the silence is louder than any noise can be. 

Families.  Today some families are having a great time together, some are mourning someone who died, some folks are alone.  My schedule next week and the week after looks normal but this silent weekend has made me thoughtful and sad.  Artie was my family in so many ways.  I don't have any really serious problems but I miss being the most important person in someone's life.  I miss having someone anxious to come home to me, anxious for me to come home to.  If he was alive we probably would be hanging around the house not doing much - maybe even fighting - who knows?  But we would be together and later tonight we would crawl into bed and hold each other and tell stories.  We had a working fairy and a dancing fairy that lived in our garden.  That was one of the stories we told each other.

I got bashed by someone on Facebook for saying we don't create our own reality and make our own luck.  Didn't mind - although was a little surprised when she said being sad about being left behind was simply selfish.  Interesting that someone who says she is "positive" would go on the attack that way.  It's always both with me - all the fun stuff and all the positive things - and then the time of crumpling, crumbling into the familiar black hole of feeling so alone now.  In NYC - city of millions - yet alone.  I think we can change a lot by changing how we think about it - but I think it's an insult to those that suffer to say we make our own reality.  There is a world out there that we can't always have an impact on.  I can visualize Artie all I want - it's not going to bring him back.  My friends with cancer can't change the disease that is assailing them.  So much is out of our control.  Which might be a good thing!  I mean - what if I decided at 60 I wanted to be an Olympic ice skater?  There's a good chance I wouldn't make the team!  :)

In spite of all that - I may actually have my first date.  I went on dating sites for a while and didn't like them - but one man who had contacted me before - contacted me again.  I took a deep breath and called him back.  We had a nice conversation for over an hour and he said he'd call me on Tuesday to set up a time for having dinner together.  I cannot tell you how weird this feels.  I don't even know if he'll follow through and call.  I haven't had a date in almost 25 years!  (I was with Artie for 23 years and he's been dead 2 years in July.)  Part of me feels that I should be a loyal widow and be alone forever - another part wants so much to be held.  I feel like - with everything else - I should take the risk and see what happens.  We might not even like each other in person - or we might - we might even have fun.  The only thing is - if another man ever comes to my apartment - it is Artieland - there are pictures of him all over the place and his slippers are still next to the bed.  I'm very curious (if it happens) what this experience will be like.

I'm breaking my don't stay in the house two days in a row rule.  I have stuff to do tomorrow so I think I will give myself permission for some self pity time.  Maybe finish cleaning the bits I haven't gotten too. I don't feel interested in things today.  I feel dull today.  It's okay.  There are other days. 

It's Memorial Day.  I am grateful for all of those who gave their lives so that we might live the way we live.  It's not a perfect country but if you've travelled around the world - we have a lot of freedom and comfort here.  Even on a sad day - as I've said before - I'm always greatful to live somewhere with indoor plumbing - where you turn a tap and water comes out.  Imagine if I had to go out - to walk miles to the well to get water.  I would probably be fitter!  It's remarkable that young people choose to fight for an ideal.  It's important to me to remember them and be thankful for them (whether I agree with a particular military action or not - I can still care about the folks who risk their lives for others). 

I think it's a little odd when people say, "Happy Memorial Day".  On the other hand, it's good when someone has died if you can celebrate their life instead of mourn their loss.  Me - I have to do both.  A lot of celebrating and feeling lucky to have Artie love me - and a lot of sadness that he died and didn't take me with him.  Sometimes I feel like I could just write blah blah blah and you would all get it!!

I hope that a lot of you are spending the day quite contentedly with family and friends - and that those of you who are alone today like I am - find ways of having some moments of solitary fun.  Someone wrote a quote about seeing the stars from the dark bottom of a well.  I don't remember it exactly - but that's it - isn't it?  The darker it is - the easier it is to see star shine.  And because of the time it takes for light to travel  - some stars that are twinkling brightly are already dead.  That's my Artie.  He may be dead - but he's still shining brightly.  xo

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Grief: Oops - here it comes again

First of all, after I posted yesterday I wanted to make something clear.  I'm a city kid so a lot of what I do is city stuff.  The get up out of bed could be as simple as working in a garden, going to lunch with a friend, going on a hike.  It doesn't have to be all the wild things I get involved in here in the big city.  One of my friends was so sad for me because I had never been camping.  I went once and hated it - kind of knew I would.  So, it doesn't matter where you live.  It also doesn't matter if you are interested in it.  One the problems for us grieving folk is reconnecting with the joy and interest.  For me getting moving is the important thing.  I often find I have a good time once I get somewhere even if I have had to fight to get out.  Of course there are also the times (less of them) when I am all dressed and ready to go and still can't make it.

The oops - here is comes again - is that in spite of this great stuff - I am starting to feel like hiding again.  It's getting harder to get moving, to keep pushing those creaky doors open.  I thought about it and realized that it was this time two years ago that Artie started getting very sick and no one would listen to me - even Artie.  His doctor kept telling him he was fine so Artie didn't see any reason to go to the hospital even though eventually he was sleeping 18 hours a day and hallucinating.  We had a jazz musician hovering near the ceiling at one point.  I couldn't hear the music but he obviously could.  Six weeks of misdiagnosis - I left him with caregivers checking on him twice a day - and told him I wouldn't come back unless he went to the hospital.  No one could believe I got him in.  Unfortunately he wasn't fine - he had stage four cancer and died six weeks later.  So...it seems I have a 12 week date instead of just the anniversary of his death.

My intention is to keep moving; keep doing things but also to be gentler with myself during this time if I need to escape.

I have an e-mail from someone from an on-line dating service that I am ignoring.  Can't decide if I even want one date.  Still feel so married and yet am lonely and a little jealous of folks who have found new relationships.  I'm happy for them but not sure I'm ready.  We'll see.

I wish I could explain Provocative Therapy to you - it's such a weird improvisational combination of techniques - done in a conversational and humorous manner.  The intent is what happens - you get awfully confused and then hopefully things come together in a new way.  Usually it starts with, "What's the problem?" However if you say you are miserable without your husband you might find yourself being told - Of course you are.  You probably aren't miserable enough.  What can you do to make yourself more miserable?  Or maybe being told - it's not your fault you're miserable - nothing you can do to change it.  Then the strange thing happens - you start taking the opposite position.   You don't know me - I can change it!  or I am miserable enough - I want to be less miserable.  But the responses of the therapist are so complex and varied there is no way to describe it.  I had this great insight about being anorexic in a world of great things that I couldn't taste emotionally.  What did I get for it - laughter and a yawn.  :)  I laughed myself.  All these words that reinforce the unhappiness instead of tossing them up in the air and letting them come down in a totally different way.

The bottom line - I think - is that we all have solid beliefs.  Mine is - "If Artie is dead I can't possibly ever be happy."  That's been shot to pieces in a lot of ways in the different places I have been in.  It's not totally gone - but I am working consciously and unconsciously to make the belief "Artie's death is sad and painful for me but I can still be happy a lot of the time." Not quite at "I'm a happy person" but still  a big shift.  If I change my belief system the way I feel and act is going to change.  There are still parts I am clinging on to - like still feeling married.  That's okay too. I feel that I have more choices.  I have some control over how my actions and my thinking can change my feelings and allow for more moments and more joy.  Still working on feeling connected to the joy part instead of feeling like an observer. "Oh look - something really cool is happening to her."  instead of being present in my body and feeling the good feelings associated with the fact that something really cool is happening to ME. 

Because who am I without Artie?  Well, I'm the one that's alive.  I'm the one that's still breathing.  What if I could give my husband the gift of living double for him as well as for me.  He didn't have fun with the oh so good at whining malcontented me when he was alive - so maybe he's not having fun with that part of me now.  He always held me and comforted me - but of course - he preferred it when I was happy and laughing. 

I'm not very good at keeping things simple!!   Here's to a bit of light in our day - to taking a path not taken before even if goes through a dark and scary wood.  Who knows what we will find on the other side?  As long as I don't have to go camping!!  xo

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Grief: Get up, get up, get out of bed

Got back from England last night and have lots to write but it's already almost two pm.   Someone asked me how I do it?   I make myself go places where things are happening and then things happen to me.  Here's a weird one.  At the Bandler workshop he did work with someone who is shy and feels uncomfortable talking to people she doesn't know in groups.  I paid attention (or didn't pay attention - trance work!) to that one because I always feel totally uncomfortable in groups. At the workshop I just came back from people kept coming up and talking to me.  I didn't have to initiate anything.  Of course, I had volunteered to be a subject to be worked on with this magical 80 year old man named Frank Farrelly who does something called Provocative Therapy.  The thing is no one can figure out what he does exactly - that's what makes him magical.  The end result when you experience it is that you are confused. Then the pieces settle in a whole new way and change can occur.  I will write more about it tomorrow or Thursday when I have more time.  Since I went second, folks knew quite a bit about me without me saying anything to them. They were curious and some said inspired and some (not all) wanted to know more. I put myself in a position to make talking to people I didn't know happen without thinking about it.  I volunteered because I wanted help - but it had a secondary effect I didn't think about.  

That's the get up, get up, get out of bed part.  Because of the long term construction work they are doing on the front of my apartment building I have moved into the guest room in the back.  It is painted black and is very cosy - which makes it difficult to get up - for me.  Artie is still dead of course and I am still sad about it and miss him and wish I could stay in bed all day.  And yet...when I do get going all these wonderful things start to happen.

For some people that is an easy process.  For me, it's not.  My next thing with the solo show I did (Pull Me Back) is that I thought if it was filmed making it into a DVD was simple.  Nope.  There's an editing process which will take time.  One thing I heard this weekend was that if Napoleon woke up with soldiers on the eastern front and the western front the first thing he said in the morning wasn't, "O Joy!".  That's it.  If my life feels like a battlefield sometimes - Artie was my armor - is my armor - why do I expect to wake up and say "O Joy!".   I can wake up and feel as good or as bad as I want to.  The thing is I'm in this waiting room until I can be with Artie again (hopefully) so how creative can I be in decorating it? How creative can I be in filling the time I have?  The bottom line seems to be that although I continue to cling to my tale of woe I have also gotten up (when I could) and put myself places or taken actions that make it difficult not to find moments of "O Joy!" to mix in with the moments of "I can't; it's too hard." 

I have a storytelling class tonight and I need to take a shower and and and.  Maybe that is the secret.  I need to be more of an action figure and less of a lying down watching DVDs figure.  Also - when those moments of joy come - I need to say hello to them and not walk right by them as if they are strangers.  Hello joy, I welcome you in to my life.  My husband is dead and I am sad and lonely but there is room for joy too. 

More to come.  Didn't want to go so long this time without posting.  Let's look around today and see when things happen to us that we can celebrate if we notice them and then welcome them in.  Or - let's notice if we walk right by things we might celebrate and tell them to go away because we are too busy being miserable - as we should be - to have time to celebrate.  Or - as still happens - if happy things annoy us because our loved one isn't here phsyically to share them with.  In the airport tennis was on television.  Artie loved tennis.  I had a few minutes of hating the world because he was dead and tennis was still going on - and then I stopped myself and wound my memories backwards to think how happy Artie would be to be stuck in an airport and be able to watch tennis.

I am going to sign off and celebrate the fact I live somewhere that I can walk into a room and turn some handles and lovely hot water comes out to make me clean.  Not everyone lives in a place like that.  No matter how grouchy I get I am always grateful for indoor plumbing!  xo

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Grief: Moving Forward, Backward and Upside Down!

I'm sorry it has been so long between posts.  Working on my solo show Pull Me Back was all consuming for a while.  I performed it on May 14th and was delighted and surprised to have an almost full house and to get a standing ovation.  It is about my relationship with my husband - the good and the bad - his dying at home - my grief and survival.  It is funny and sad and what I am proud of is that I followed through, showed up and performed it.  I will be making DVDs of it for folks who couldn't come and that is another process that will be more difficult than I originally thought.  I'm not sure if I will be performing it again - but it touched a lot of people and I will pursue opportunities if they arise.  I wanted people to know about grief - that it doesn't magically disappear - that you can live a full life after having someone you love die but the sadness stays with you.  I also wanted people to meet Artie.  It is fun that a lot of folks who never met him feel he is a strong presence in their lives after seeing the show or hearing my stories.  I keep him alive and yet he is still dead.

I am so lucky in so many ways and am grateful for my friends and loved ones.  My daughter is pregnant and I was glad that she came for the show and stayed a while.  Things have changed so much.  Even though her baby to be is only 8 weeks along she has a sonogram picture of it.  It was nice having her and very sad for me when she went back to Seattle.  We had fun shopping for maternity clothes for her together.

I am going to Leeds, England this weekend for another therapy/learning experience.  The thing is I am having trouble absorbing all of the praise and joy and love.  I miss Artie so much.  When everyone went home yesterday I was glad to curl up in bed and be alone and yet I hated curling up in bed without my husband.  It was time to share all these good things with him.  I know he is watching me with a smile but that is different than having him here.  How weird is that?  To do a show about the death of my husband and at the same time think there would be a way he could come and see it!!

I feel like I am moving forward and standing still at the same time.  Like treading water.  You have to keep moving just to stay in the same place. 

When I was thinking about suicide this was when I was going to do it - after the show.  Now that I have decided to live because it is my job and my responsibility to stay alive until it is the proper time to go - I am still looking for ways not to wake up thinking, o dear, not another day - but to wake up with enthusiasm.  All the fun and good times and good work don't touch the space that misses my husband.  I don't know how to do that.  But I'm so tired and bored of hearing myself whine!  My daughter is very excited about the baby but is nauseous all the time and is having trouble with 24 hour morning sickness.  Maybe that is what I have - excitement about the good things in my life but also 24 hour mourning sickness!!

Hope I learn some new things this weekend.  I want to love life like Artie loved life but don't tell anyone - the secret is - what I really want is to take a plane not to England but to wherever Artie is.  Odd that one person makes everything else so impossible even while it is also so fabulous.

I am a little ball of confusion!   I dedicated the show to all grief warriors.  May we have courage and also, in spite of our sadness, joy.  xo

Monday, May 9, 2011

Grief: Small Things

This morning I went to fold some sheets and missed the other pair of hands to hold the other end and help me.

I watched what turned out to be the last episode of one the TV shows Artie and I liked to watch together.  After the characters/actors said goodbye - it was another loss.  A teeny tiny one.

Am getting nervous about the show.  Nothing special about that.  Went to a print shop to make programs and called the editing studio to ask them to make a few small changes.  Have my first tech rehearsal tomorrow.  There's a lovely dinner for me after the show my daughter is organizing.  How can I be doing this without Artie?  Crawling into bed with our teddy bears and the covers we slept under doesn't calm me like holding on to my husband like my life depended on it.  I don't like being a grown up without him!! 

I'm sure everything will be fine - but there is that empty space.  I think I've said that sometimes I walk down the street with my hand curled outward.  It doesn't make me outwardly look crazy - but what I'm doing is pretending Artie is holding my hand.

I am so lucky.  I even have a film clip of him saying, "Oh God, we're so lucky." (he wasn't talking about us - but he is now - in the show!!)   I do have a letter he wrote to me how he watches me try new things - fall - and get up - and try again - and how proud he is to be my husband.  All these gifts.  I'm doing it.  I'm uncomfortable - but I'm doing it.  I just want him back.  That's all.  I need his shoulder to lean on today. 

Small things.  Some days missing the small things hurts more than missing the big things.  I wish I had died first - but I don't because he would have had a harder time surviving than I do.  Once when I was in the hospital I was angry with him because he didn't spend much time visiting.  I later found out he was laying in bed in our house crying because he was so afraid I was going to die.  I didn't.  He did. 

Sorry for having a sad old bad old day again.  I'll be happy later.  Just not right now.  I'd like to listen to a hypnosis CD - I think that would help - but I'm waiting for an e-mail from the editing place.  All this new technology makes me a stranger in a strange land.  I still think I need paper for things!!

Hope some of you out there are having happy days.  That's the trick - if you're climbing the grief rope and you slide down and get rope burn - you just have to breathe and start climbing back up.  No - that's not fun.  Maybe I'll jump on a trampoline so high I'll reach the sky - like a little kid.  (in my imagination, of course, in real life my hips would complain!!)  Thank you all for being there.  xo

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Grief: Mother's Day or Motherf..... Day

Don't want to be offensive so I didn't finish the word.  I know how difficult certain days are for me having had my husband die but I don't have to live through a Husband's Day.  I wanted to post today to say that if you have had a child die or your Mom die - I can't even begin to imagine what you are feeling.  I want to tell you that whatever you are feeling - it's okay.  It's terrific if you are in a place where you can celebrate the life of your child and or your mother - but if that's not where you are there's nothing wrong with cursing, tears, resentment, envy, sadness - or with everything all mixed together.  Next mood swing - 10 minutes!  There's nothing wrong with going out and having a party and there's nothing wrong with staying in bed with the covers over your head - or both.

I hope that the folks around you are being respectful and understanding of what you have lost - if the death occurred recently or if it occurred 40 years ago.  You have the right to your feelings. 

When my daughter was using drugs she was down to 85 pounds and I thought she was going to die.  It was the scariest and most helpless time for me.  I still don't like thinking of what she went through.  I am lucky because she survived - and will be sober soon for 5 years.  If you are angry that she made it and your kid didn't - that's okay with me.  Sometimes I see couples - especially older ones - and I think why is my husband dead and that woman's isn't.  I call myself Nice Jan and Mean Snarky Jan.  Luckily I have friends who put up with the Mean Snarky me.

What I wish for you is that you have happy memories that you can gather all around you - memories that give you some laughter and some silliness - and a great sense of love.  I was never a believer before Artie died - but I like believing that he is still with me in spirit and that some day I will get to go home to him.  That belief helps me through the rough times.  I don't even care if it is real or delusional. 

That's our real challenge - to figure out ways to have something so painful turn into something inspirational.  To think of that wonderful face and voice and hear, "I love you.  I miss you!  You go out there and make me proud."  I hope you can have a Mother's Day and not a Motherf........ Day.  :)

For those of us that have children living or mom's living - it's something to think about.  What if they weren't? There were so many things I let irritate me about Artie when he was alive.  It all seems so silly now.  Sometimes there are real and unsolvable problems - but sometimes - I know that for me - I was stuck in my point of view and would give anything to have him back to spend more time with him and be a better wife.  Not a more loving wife - we adored each other - just one who made better choices sometimes.  Maybe that means that I should get off of the computer and call my daughter.  It's never easy to follow my own advice.

Lots of love to all of you today - remember you are grief warriors and deserve to be loved and understood!xo

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Grief: Rambling Widow Thoughts

I'm sorry for not posting more often.  I've been very involved in trying to do my solo show Pull Me Back.  All kinds of new experiences and challenges.  Yesterday I was in an editing room awash in images of my husband - film and still pictures.  There was one sequence that was supposed to be amusing that turned out to be so touching that the editor (a guy) almost cried.  Artie was so alive in that room and is so dead in real life.  I was dreaming about him a lot last night and kept waking up having happy memories and also being sad that when I woke up in the middle of the night I couldn't roll over and be comforted.  A little self pity about not having someone in the morning to greet me when I wake up and someone to care when I come home at the end of the day.

Then I thought of all the Moms and children that have been separated by death and how difficult this weekend will be for them.  Folks have a way of going out and celebrating.  It sometimes seems very rude of them!!  Of course, that's not true.  We just wish we could be celebrating too.  We can be - it's only that loving a dead person is much more difficult than loving a live one.  I think - as I work on the show - of the times Artie did something that I got angry with him for - and how silly it all seems now.  I know I was just being human - but I wish he could come back so we could do it all again - and better!

Some have you may have seen my Facebook post about Betty White.  When I was waiting on line I was rehearsing a sad part of the show in my head and tears kept coming down my face.  I felt a little silly having to keep wiping away tears when I was simply waiting in a line.  She was so delightful.  She has a wicked sense of humor and honestly loves life - and is grateful for all the things that have happened to her.  She said Bea Arthur on Golden Girls used to get irritated with her for being happy all the time.  One thing she said was that folks spend a lot of time talking about what they hate - and she spends her time thinking about what she loves.  She has a special love for animals.  I decided to tell her my husband had died and ask if she had any advice.  She said that you just have to let grief wash over you.  She said that no one can give you anything.  That is so in tune with the way I feel - I can have have great experiences - but the space where Artie belongs  - no one can give me what he did - nothing fills that space.  She said time helps but even after 25 years a flower, a certain scent will bring everything back.  I feel that way too.  That I will always remember Artie and miss him no matter what else happens in my life.

What I found inspiring and challenging - is that with this great grief and loss so many years ago - even at 89 - she has a full schedule.  She works hard and sounds like she plays hard (has a poker game once a month).  She has made her life fulfilling and full of joy.  It sounded like it all came from a true place in her heart - not a pretend one.  I took it as something to model - how to love Artie - not let go of him - or my memories - and yet go forward with love and laughter and be productive and happy.  Even if sometimes just waiting in a line makes me cry!

A new season of Waking the Dead - a British murder mystery series Artie and I loved watching together just came out.  I put it on and said, "I know dead people don't watch TV but just this once - share it with me."  He probably isn't interested in that kind of thing any more - I don't know what spirits are interested in - but pretending he was there with me made me feel good.  I think there is a difference between being in denial or being delusional and sometimes letting our loved ones be with us in our imagination in ways they probably aren't in reality if it makes us feel happy.  I know I enjoyed myself more than watching it thinking I was alone.  It's only a problem - to me - if you do it instead of having a real life.  I find that kind of pretending gives me the energy to have a real life - because it makes me more happy and less sad.  Even if he doesn't watch TV I do feel that Artie's spirit is genuinely with me.

If today was the day I could go home to Artie I would - but it's not.  I still sometimes say to him - I know you can't - but COME BACK!! 

I have a lot of friends coming in from out of town and I wish they had a phone app for cleaning up apartments.  I hope I can pull off doing this show.  The important thing for me is that I show up. 

I'll try and write tomorrow - but I want to wish a very special kindness and bravery for those of you who are facing Mother's Day tomorrow with grief.  I wish happy memories were made of clay that we could mold into our loved ones - and that we could breathe life into the clay and bring them back.  Since we can't - we have to learn to breathe life into ourselves.  xo

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Grief: Something About A Beautiful Spring Sunday

It's a beautiful spring Sunday. The sun is out.  It's not too hot.  I always think of Sundays as family days.  My husband is dead.  My daughter is delightfully (if nauseously) pregnant but in Seattle.  I am thinkng of a trek to the gym and the grocery store.  Cleaning up a little.  Working on my show.  All the tricks and techniques I've learned - and yet I can't stop thinking of the old Kris Kristofferson song lyrics:

                                                  'Cos there's something in a Sunday,
                                                   Makes a body feel alone.
                                                   And there's nothin' short of dyin',
                                                   Half as lonesome as the sound,
                                                   On the sleepin' city sidewalks:
                                                   Sunday mornin' comin' down.

Of course it's NYC so they are busy city sidewalks filled with tourists and families and I am fighting that feeling of the old self pity welling up in my chest and spilling out of my eyes.  Artie and I saw Kris Kristofferson - at 72 he was surprisingly sexy - and Artie and I were in the audience holding hands and laughing and talking and now....

I always say being in love with a dead man isn't easy.  Working on the show - Pull Me Back - because Artie said "Pull me back" the night he was dying and I say "Pull me back" to life - is difficult.  For a while there my apartment looked like an Artie explosion as I pulled out everything I have saved to see what to use in the show as a prop or part of the technical stuff - his voice - his image.  I was putting some of it back in the closet.  A dead man's address book.  What use is that?  Back in the closet.  A dead man's contract and divorce papers and notes for a book.  All the remnants of the life of the man I love that will be thrown away when I die but until then - back in the closet.  All the love letters and love notes and cards. Those are in scrapbooks and a purple box next to my bed.  I am so lucky to have them, so grateful.  Yet they - and this show - keep me anchored in the past.  How do I move forward and stay in the same place at the same time.  I am so not willing to let go.

I decided to live and I keep working on filling that life with meaning.  I go to grief sites on Facebook and I see post after post - all the pain.  Without _____________________ fill in the name I feel so ________________ fill in the word - sad, empty, tired, lonely.   I also see stories of people who have transformed that pain into joy.  I see posts from those who deeply loved someone who are in new relationships or who have remarried.  This is awful - but there was someone who remarried and who lives where Artie and I lived and I had to block her posts because I couldn't stand her happiness.  Usually that isn't true.  Usually I am happy for folks who find someone new.  And at less than two years I am a still in the beginning of grief.

Richard Bandler - the hypnotherapist I went to in London for his personal enhancement workshop - the master mind changer - the master of teaching folks how to be successful and happy - had his wife die.  He is remarried now - but was single for 6 years.  He said he thought about killing himself too.  Even though he is remarried when he talked about the woman he had been married to for 30 years who died in his arms - as Artie did in mine - he sounded as in love with her as I am with Artie.  Someone told me that when he did trance work with me about grief she heard his voice break.

That's a lesson in the fragility that grief brings to even the strongest mind.  I am proud of myself for all that I am doing,  I am having more happy moments.  When I feel like I do today - I move.  I try to spin my memories backwards to all the times Artie was here and would be holding me; laughing with me; saying:  I love you.  You're my heart. 

Yet - with all these new tools - with all my new movement - I'm a bird with one wing flying in circles; starving amid plenty.  Let's dance together today grief warriors whether it's a stomp or a waltz or - I just realized I have no idea what kind of dancing young people do!  The life space is very full - I had a lovely busy week - but the Artie space is full of a love that today is sucking me back into that black night of grief - where I look up and cannot see the stars.  When I go out - I will walk along the street and pick out the people who are walking alone.  What a silly thing it is to have my heart wish only one thing - and have that thing be impossible.  I want to open my eyes and see my husband - not in a picture - not on a recording - but standing before me laughing telling me that conspiracy theorists are right - his death was some bizarre governmental experiment and now it is over and he has been given permission to return. :)   No.  It was just one death amid so many.  But it was the death of my love.  I have to make sure that the death of my love is not the death of my hope.

I hope my Sunday gets cheerier later and you all are having cheerier Sundays than me!!  xo