Saturday, August 13, 2011

Grief: Gratitude and Attitude

I'm sorry I haven't posted in such a long time.  Even if I don't write I do think of you all.

The good news is that I acted like a grown up. I decided instead of fighting and being sad about my daughter (who is pregnant with my first and probably only grandchild - Gwendolyn Ruth due in December) not moving east to live near me - to take action.  I rented a studio apartment 4 blocks from her house which will be easier and cheaper than a hotel.  I'd rather not go from coast to coast but she is my only close family and it is important to me to be near her. The apartment is over a frozen yogurt store where you take a cup and fill it with as many flavors, mix-ins and toppings as you want.  I better be careful or I will need two airplane seats instead of one!

I had a lot of fun being with her but one night we were sitting on her porch swing.  I put my head on her shoulder for a minute.  I started to cry.  I get massages and hugs from friends but all of a sudden I had this sense memory of how much I loved putting my head on Artie's shoulder.  I have stuffed animals and a cosy bed and his Yankee jacket but I miss him holding me.  I used to tell him that when he held me it was the only time I felt safe.  I know I'm safe, but I miss that feeling more than anything.  Just snuggling in all warm and loved and loving.  I could have left my head on my daughter's shoulder but I know she would have gotten uncomfortable so I sat up.  Sometimes I would hold on to Artie's shirt like a little girl.  It felt so good.  All those back rubs, and back scratches, and private jokes and shared stories.  The one that everyone talks about - I read something or see something and I want to discuss with him and I can't.

When I got back to NYC I started spending a lot of time in bed again and felt guilty until a good friend reminded me that I had been distracted in Seattle with my daughter and of course I would react to coming home again to the silence.  It just seems weird - even after two years now - to be living somewhere without Artie.  It seems weird to come home and not get that grin - that welcome - that hug - the love note he always taped to the door.  I'm not going to judge it but I decided to wear my wedding ring and his all the time - not just in the house.  I want to be married to my ghost husband.  I just do.  It was funny - a male friend said I will be more attractive to men if they think I'm not available! 

So, that's why I haven't posted.  Spent about three days doing the bare minimum.  Also, I'm not thinking clearly.  Went to a class today.  Looked at the time - 1:27.  Whew, I thought.  I made it 3 minutes early.  Nope.  The class started at 1 pm not 1:30.  I'm going to have to double check everything until my mind clears.

The house is starting to pile up with things.  However, I am scheduling classes for the fall and hoping that I can show up for performing more and writing.  I feel much better about myself when I am doing things but some days I can't.  I read posts on Facebook from people who stay in bed all day every day.  That's not what I want for my life.  For those of you who read the posts about the hero's journey - the call - and the refusal.  I know what my call is.  It's that my refusal is BIG BIG BIG right now. I like to post to try to help other folks who feel stuck - that's part of my Facebook life but haven't had the energy for that either. 

On August 22nd I'm going to Michigan to see a friend and then to Denver to see two friends - one of whom is battling cancer.  I have to look at it as a summer of connecting with people.  How do I motivate myself to do things when I'm home alone?  Writing.  Practicing stories and other things to perform.   Still working on that one.  I did talk to Nina Gilberti who is working on a documentary on homeless veterans called When Jane and Johnny Come Marching Homeless.  I want to help her with it.  She is amazing.  She is as grateful for a contribution of $5 as she is for a larger one.  She is an editor at the TV show Criminal Minds where I had a set visit in January with my daughter.  When I contacted her she remembered me because of my daughter's tattoos!   Doing those two things today - talking to Nina and going to an improv class - I think - gave me the energy to post.  The more I stay in bed the more I stay in bed.  It's the same old story - when I force myself to move I get some momentum going.

Artie would understand - does understand either way.  I am so grateful for all of you who have and are supporting me through the ups and downs of all of this.  I never look at previous posts as you know - I still have in the back of my mind to do some kind of book chronicling this crazy ride.  I also have the DVD of my solo show which I have to give to the teacher of my weekend class.  Let's see if I can get my nerve up! 

I'm working on a story for something called RISK in November and the theme is family.  I didn't have loving parents,  Artie was the only person to really take care of me.  By that I mean full time.  My friends and daughter love me and take care of me - but with Artie I was always number one.  I want part of the story to be what family is.  Artie is still my family even though he is dead.  A new baby coming into the world.  Everyone who reads this blog is family.  I always try to put several stories into one - we'll see what I can do with this one.

This is nothing to do with the above - but I have been meaning to address it for awhile.  Some people don't treat the death of a pet as seriously as the death of a person.  I don't agree with that.  We all have our special loves and our own burdens.  I have a lot of respect for the grief people feel when their pet dies.  Even though you can get a new pet easier than you can a new husband :) - the truth is that new pet doesn't take away the sadness of the death of the pet that has died.  When my husband's dog died he never got another one.  When my daughter's dog died she got a new dog but she still misses the dog that died and cries over him.  I think it's important to take each person's grief and each person's journey seriously.  I'm a very judgemental person sometimes - but I never judge the amount of someone's grief or the way they grieve.  I share what I learn because I think we all have a special light - a gift to give to the world.  It's important not to let our grief make our light go out. However, it's also okay to be honest about the struggle.

It was funny - I told my daughter she should count how many times I talk about Artie every day.  She said she'd have to get a clicker!  Too bad talkiing about Artie isn't aerobic exercise.  I'd be one skinny lady!!

Take care of yourselves.  Let's help each other make our lights shine so brightly that our loved ones - wherever they are - see them twinkling.  xo

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