Friday, October 26, 2012

Grief: What If I Can Hold On and Let Go

Whew.  I mean to be writing more often.  I mean to be doing a lot of things.  It's the holidays coming up.  It's Artie's birthday coming up.  I'm moving on his birthday. (December 11th)  How's that for showing up? I've taken the day that is hard to get through and scheduled my mover for that day.  Should be interesting. 

I have bought an apartment that will be beautiful one day.  Right now I feel like I'm building it.  It eats up money, time, and energy.  Artie would do it better.  He'd get things done, and get them done cheaper.  He'd hug me.  He'd argue about stuff with me.  I'm doing it by myself.  With the support of friends.  One day I have fried brains.  The next day I make time to have fun with a friend.  I eat healthy food.  I eat deliciously unhealthy food.  I feel I am alone.  I look at a picture of my daughter and grandbaby and I smile.  I want to share it with Artie and I can but I can't. 

Moving again.  It means getting rid of more of my husband's things.  There is a sign over the garbage chute in my building that says Rubbish.  I want it to say NOT RUBBISH.  Some things go down the chute.  His address book went to the chute and back in my apartment three times.  I bought him a little sign that says, "Artie's Laundry Room: Drop Your Pants Here!"  I'm giving it to my daughter.  I told her she can put it in her laundry room or throw it away.  I can't throw it away because it made him laugh.  I had his divorce papers (from previous wives).  They're gone.  I threw away some other papers.  I'm giving away more clothes.  His red leather jacket went to a thrift shop.  I always hated it.  I'm keeping the Yankee jacket and lots of cosy tops to sleep in.  When someone dies we throw away their dreams.  I have a book he never finished.  One copy now.  I kept some movie proposals that never got done - but threw away the rejection slips.  How many copies of his obituary do I need?  How many copies of how many pictures?  So many things I treasure my daughter will probably throw away when I die.  The seal for his company that doesn't exist any more.  His discharge from the army.

I read somewhere that middle age is when your memories are more important than your dreams.  That's partly true.  With all the women I know that have new realationships, I seem to be lonely but content with that loneliness.  I like being married to my dead guy.  I see the ridiculousness in it - and the romantic loyalty as well.  I had the delight of having a friend I met on a grief site come and visit for the first time.  Someone who understands that there is always sadness beneath the laughter - but there is always laughter to be found in spite of the sadness.  I actually handed her Artie's ashes (which are now in a green velevet bag with a gold cord that they were delivered in (the plastic sealed bag is inside) and said, "I'd like you to meet my husband Artie."  To my surprise, she took the bag of ashes and said, "Hi Artie.  I've heard a lot about you."  What a blessing to have a friend like that.  Before Artie died I would have said that was totally insane.  It seemed totally natural.  He's not in his ashes - but it's what I have left of him.

I had brunch with the father of my daughter's best friend who died of cancer at the age of 36.  I was able to let him know that things he was doing rhat he thought were strange are normal for a grieving person.  Sometimes those gestures of holding on are exactly what allows us to let go.

If I take time to be with Artie, in my imagination, by doing something in his memory, by looking at his picture - that gives me the energy to show up and do something else. 

It's been over three years now.  Some days it's easier, some days it's harder. 

In the middle of all my e-mails to plumbers, electricians, movers, painters etc... etc... there was an e-mail from someone thanking me for writing this blog.  There were e-mails from people I know but haven't met in person.  There were Facebook messages.  All to remind me I can smile.

In the middle of sleeping a little too much some days, being a little more grouchy than usual, wanting to avoid another round of holiday and birthdays and anniversaries without him amazing stuff happened.  I saw a play with a friend.  I spent a weekend two doors down from me at the Ritz Hotel being spoiled with a very special friend.  I spent a day helping a woman who is making a film on - of all things - holocaust humor.  Imagine being in a concentration camp and being able to laugh there.  That is amazing.  She has a lovely husband and daughter.  I wasn't jealous watching the three of them be loving to each other.  I keep being brought back into the present by my daughter and granddaughter.

I guess with all the cursing and whining and feelings of being stressed out I have been doing what I said I would.  I have been spending, if not enough time, more time focusing on what makes me happy.  I have been forcing myself to show up.  That play I saw?  I didn't want to go.  My friend and I sat on a bench after and talked for an hour.  I'm so glad I went.  I have 44 boxes packed.  One box at a time. 

I just had a strange thought.  I love grieving.  I hate the part where Artie is dead and I have to get used to him being in his new form - and I can't seem to do it very well.  But I love the part where I have these memories of this very special person and this very special love.  I love hearing stories.  I love telling stories.  Some people tell me that no one wants to hear about the person who died. I have had some friends disappear - but new ones have taken their place.  If you are with me you are going to hear Artie stories.  He's still alive in me.  You'll get to know him through me.  I ask people about their love ones that have died.  I love to hear their stories. 

I titled this before I wrote it.  I didn't know where I was going with it.  I think it is the same theme.  In order to let go I don't have to stop holding on.  I can move forward and stay in the past.  It takes some creativity, and some days, a lot of courage.  Sometimes I am good at it.  I take my memories and my grief out into the world and they are a powerful force for good in my present.  Sometimes I walk backward into the unwanted solitude and the self pity. 

Someone said I was amazing.  I think she's amazing.  It's that thing again.  We have to see ourselves with the eyes of those who admire us.  I have been watching someone on Facebook who I never met that lives in a different country make more and more healthy choices for herself.  I am so proud of her.  I forget to be proud of me.  Be proud of yourself today.  Grief warriors.  You are living without someone, a person or an animal, or multiple people and animals, that you love, that you miss.  You are unbearably sad (to use someone's words) and yet you are reading this and I know you are figuring things out.  We'll do the holidays together - with our sadness - but with our memories - and if we are lucky - with people that make us forget - even accidentally - that we are lonely.  For me, it's looking into the eyes of Gwendy blue eyes, my granddaughter. If she weren't here it might be someone else's eyes.  Maybe even my own.  Wouldn't that be something!  Let's trying looking in the mirror, into our own eyes, and seeing the flame of life in them.  Let's nurture that flame so until it is our time to go we can burn brightly with whatever passion we can find for the time we have left.  xo

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