Monday, July 2, 2012

Grief: Fell Off My Invisible Tightrope

It's been a long time in between posts.  Grief has made my life a walk on an invisible tightrope.  Sometimes I balance so well that I forget it's there.  Then something happens and I'm lying on the ground, all bruised, wondering how to get up again.  Then I become conscious of the tightrope until I can balance easily again.  The ladder is there - our ability to jump high is there - but sometimes it feels like it is too difficult.

I have never experienced a hospital death.  I was lucky that I brought my husband home to die so I could create the experience I wanted for him, for us and for his friends.  I was stressed out, of course, but we had jazz music playing all the time and we left the front door unlocked from 10 am to 10 pm.  Even when his hospital bed was in the middle of the living room people came in and out.  When it was time for him to die (the right time for him - too early for the rest of us) a hospice nurse helped him and us.  No machines, no attempts to patch together a body ravaged by cancer.  I've thought about it since.  If I had done something different he might have had a little more time but I always feel like I made the right decision.

My daughter's best friend Jon died from cancer.  He was in ICU for what seemed forever.  It wasn't about me but it was very difficult being in the ICU waiting room.  It was difficult seeing him hooked up to so many machines.  It was his family's choice and they felt they had to do everything they could to try to save him.  I respect that.  However, it was hard for me to watch.  It was made doubly hard by the fact that he was only 36.  There is no comfort in a young person's death for me.  I know I don't understand the why and it is possible there is a why.  However, he had graduated Columbia U. Phi Beta Kappa just last month.  He had a bright future - except he didn't.  I got to see him before he went into the ICU and tell him I loved him.  My last words were - "I'll see you - or I'll see you."  He knew what I meant.

People talk about logic and reason but that doesn't account for signs and wonders.  Since my husband's death it's hard to believe he doesn't exist in his pure form somewhere.  People who never met him and have just met me SEE him.  Whether it's true or not - believing that we will be together again makes my life possible.  I hate that my dead family has more people in it. 

I did pay my bills, do the things that had to be done.  However, other than that I went back to the old barely coping me.  Sometimes a friend would call and remind me that I was held to earth in lovely ways just by what they said.  The Celebration of Jon's Life was Saturday.  It was a very special day.  Good to hear the stories people told.  Good to be able to support his family since I have this unfortunate experience with grief myself.  Then Sunday I got food poisoning.  I think it was my body's way of telling me to stop.  To just stop and be.  To rest. 

Artie will be dead three years on July 17th.  Part of me wants to be faithful to him for the rest of my life.  Part of me wonders if that is silly.  Is being married to a dead man the right thing?  Still don't have the answer to that one.

I'm going to Marblehead (near Boston) to stay with my daughter and granddaughter Gwendy blue eyes for a few days.  A good friend who lives in Tucson is joining us.  When Gwendy - who is six months old already - smiles she sometimes wriggles her whole body as if she is so full of joy she can't contain it all.  I try to learn from her and to be present for her.

This past three weeks I've forgotten most of what I know.  No, I've remembered, but chosen not to use any of it.  It's time for me take all the tools and coping skills I have and come back to life, come back to being a happier more productive me.  I kept thinking how much easier this time would have been if Artie was here to hold me.  He is - but not with his arms - just with his spirit.  It's not easy for earthbound folk like me to get used to that.

If you fall off your tightrope the thing to do is to scramble back up.  Don't spend so much time on the ground licking your wounds that you like it better down there.  It is tempting!   I'm on my way back up and hopefully you will be hearing from me more often again. 

Truly nice and loving people having someone they love die young.  Can't get used to it.  All the wonderful people I meet because of grief.  Yet...there is that beautiful connection.  Stay connected.  Find the way home until it's time to find the way to the other home - the one we long for. foot in front of the other and here we go!  xo

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