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

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