Monday, September 24, 2012

Grief: Decorating The Waiting Room

Here's the problem.  Over three years since my husband Artie died.  I still feel like everything I do is decorating the waiting room.  I am waiting to be with him again in the same form he is.  I was in England and started crying in a graveyard.  I don't cry in public very much any more.  I don't even cry that much at home.  One inscription said, "To the world you were but a part, to me you were the entire world."  Another was simple.  A husband's name and his date of death.  His wife's name and her later date of death.  Then one word: Reunited.

Am I living in the past?  Sometimes.  I have a great present.  I am grateful for many things.  I have a new apartment that I am decorating beautifully.  People keep asking me if it is fun, if I am excited.  I stand off at a distance and know that I am creating a beautiful space.  Yet a small voice whispers, Artie won't be living there with you, why bother?  For me.  For my granddaughter.  For my daughter and my friends.  To create new memories.  It might be fun later.  Now it's hard and lonely work.  Sometimes doing it by myself is frightening. Don't hate me because I'm honest.  Someone said that they were picturing how fun it was for me.  I didn't belong in their fantasy.  It will be fun when it is - not before.

When I started writing this I talked about living a double life.  I do that.  There is the underlying part that is so hurt I have to do this with his loving spirit not his body and laugh and hollering, even.  I keep pointing to it.  Look at my hurt part!!  I laugh and smile and enjoy things but I don't want people to forget the hurt part.  They think it should be gone by now.  They think I'm not moving on.  I am moving on and staying still at the same time.  Maybe that's the difference between death and divorce.  If Artie left me because he wanted to I would probably want to forget about him and move on.  He didn't.  He left me because he was too sick to keep living.  That makes me feel like we are still connected; still on the same journey.  It isn't good or bad; but sometimes it complicates things.

I use some of the techniques I talk about.  I like the one where you close your eyes and feel the painful part and then open them again to be fully in the present.  I did that at the theatre one night.  A man in front of me was helping his wife put her sweater around her shoulder.  I closed my eyes because I miss Artie's touch and opened them again and looked at everything around me.  I bought a book called Do It NOW.  I wrote down eveything I have to do today.  I can check it off as I go along and then put things skipped today over tomorrow. 

I am most present when my granddaughter looks at me and smiles.  I owe it to her to be present.  Oh heck, I owe it to myself.  But I have no patience with anyone who is careless with my feelings.  I am too hurt to be hurt again.  Even in little ways.  I was trying to explain that to someone that has known me for a long time.  I was so mean and critical of her but I was only trying to make her understand that little gestures - or the lack of - make a big difference to me.  Sometimes I am calm and happy but a lot of times I feel like I have only one nerve and that is frayed. I'm so sad she doesn't understand.  I'm so grateful for my daughter and my friends that do understand.

Hello.  All you dead people.  Come back.  Let us love you in person all over again.  Let us love you knowing what it feels like when you are no longer here. 

I would like to write a post someday that says I no longer feel like I am in a waiting room.  Maybe.  I would like when I die to be with Artie again and tell him I was faithful to him my entire life.  My love was that pure and strong.  Then I think - what if there is no life after death?  Am I denying myself companionship and a chance to love again?  All you get from me today is questions. 

I'm doing it.  I'm accomplishing things.  I'm making people laugh.  Artie called me Panache.  I do some things even now with Panache.  Sometimes I can shrink the empty Artie space.  Sometimes it takes up so much room I have to lie down for a half hour in order to get up and move again.

If it still feels like a waiting room to me, at least I am decorating it.  I am making it as full of life and kindness and humor as I can.  The trip to England was full of amazing things.  When Elizabeth I's love if not husband Robert Dudley died she wrote took his last letter - writing on it - "his last letter" and kept it in a box next to her the rest of her life.  They say she closed the door to her chamber and refused to come out and even that they may have had to break it down.  She had other favorites. And yet...

Well,  I have a lot left on my list of things to do.  I am living and won't stop fighting to make that life as meaningful as I can.  Fight team, fight.  Beauty and silence.  I can hold it all.  I keep saying that it's too hard.  That's the wrong language.  It's easy.  It's easy because Artie loves me and that love doesn't die.  That love will help me if I let it.  Breathe in the good, scream out the bad.  Ram Dass' book is called Be HERE Now, not Be Anywhere Else But Here. Let's reach out and be here together.  xo

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this - you so eloquently put into words how it feels, the double life, so true and it helps to know we are not alone.