Sunday, December 29, 2013

Grief: It's Been Lovely But I Have To Scream Now

That is one of my favorite bumper stickers.  I have had it on my car, on my bathroom mirror, and other places.  When Artie was alive I had a bumper sticker on our bedroom door that said "Do Not Disturb:  Occupant Is Disturbed Enough Already."

It's been lovely but I have to scream now is what the holidays have felt like to me.  I had some lovely times (again - apologies to those of you who have had children and/or grandchildren die) with my daughter Erin and granddaughter Gwendy.  My granddaughter is two already and our holiday was her birthday.  She had a small party with myself and my daughter on Dec. 20th and then her big birthday party on Dec. 21st.  My daughter had "Curious Creatures" come.  They bring animals to children's parties.  There was a chinchilla, a skunk , a hedgehog, a flying squirrel and many others.  There is a picture of me holding a python.  I love holding pythons - the first time I held one was in the Amazon rainforest.  They are very strong and it makes me feel powerful as long as there is a trainer near me!  Gwendy got a child's trampoline and loves to bounce on it while I play her toy drum.  We had a small holiday tree with her picture on the top.  My idea - because she is an angel (when she's not being VERY two).  After her birthday she walked around for a day saying - Everyone ate MY cake.  We explained that birthday party cakes were for sharing - but she kept saying - It was MY cake.  You ate MY cake.  :)  We bought her a big girl bed and it arrived the day I left so I could see her bounce on it too.  She even slept in it that night.  My daughter was also lovely.  Our relationship improves all the time.

I was having such a good time.  I was also having a stomach ache that wouldn't go away.  My daughter and my husband (she is not his child) both liked to have me to themselves so when my daughter began living on her own I spent Thanksgiving with her and Christmas with my husband.  I didn't have a stomach ache during Thanksgiving.  I asked on my Facebook page Grief Speaks Out if grief causes people to be sick.  A lot of people said yes - they talked about colds and headaches and stomach aches. I had never thought of that as a connection.

When I was in the car on the way to the train station Gwendy kept saying - "I don't wan to leave Gammy."  I held her hand.  I always feel so sad when I leave her.  At the same time I am always glad to be back in my own space.  My husband said I was a malcontent and I disagreed with him.  He was right.  He was such a wonderful buffer between me and things in life I find difficult.

I have the same feelings when I go out with friends and have a good time.  Afterwards sometimes I have great memories to take with me - but sometimes I just feel like screaming:  "My husband is still dead.  Don't you get it? Why doesn't anyone understand me?"  I think Gwendy and I get along so well because I am so good at being two!

I always talk about transforming grief into joy - about being inspired by Artie's love of life to love it myself.  They call them grief bursts or grief attacks and I know they are normal.  I am still surprised by them sometimes.  What do I do with times that I cherished with my husband now that he is no longer physically here?  How do I get the lovely part without the painful screaming part?  Haven't figured that out for all the times.  Sometimes I am present in the happy moments but I am also always glad to get back to my solitude.  Then when I am back in my solitude I feel lonely because it is not easy to adjust to having a dead husband (no matter how alive his spirit is) instead of live one.  See... a malcontent!

I have gone out on New Year's Eve since he died but I have chosen this year to spend it alone - with him - which is alone and not alone.  He never really liked New Year's Eve so we always spent it together at home.  One year I covered all the clocks and we watched Monty Python movies.  When I uncovered the clocks it was after 1 am.  We laughed and kissed and wished each other Happy New Year.  We often watched the ball come down in Times Square on the television.  Our last New Year's Eve together boxing or something he wanted to watch was on.  When he came down after it was over and asked me if I wanted to watch the ball come down I said no.  I was angry that he didn't want to spend the entire night with me.  Of course, I didn't know it was our last New Year's Eve together.  I didn't even know the cancer was probably already spreading throughout his body.  All the precious moments wasted...and all the precious moments shared.  I like to remember it all.  I like to remember it as it was.  It makes the love mean more to me that it wasn't always perfect - that we were often bad at expressing it.  I wish I could have a do over though.  I want to go back to all those moments that we threw away and make them something different.  A perfect imperfect relationship. Yet we kept our promise - Nobody leaves.  A love that was truly for better, for worse, in sickness and in health.  And even death won't part us now.

Maybe that's part of the screaming part.  There is so much I want that is impossible.  I want him to come back.  I want to relive moments and change history.  I want to live to an old age so my family and friends never have to grieve for me - and I want to be with my husband as soon as possible.

At least I have more moments of "It's been lovely" than I used to.  The screaming is quieter.  The grief has gentled down.

What is it about holidays and dates that make the celebrations often have an undercurrent of stronger pain? My husband is just as dead today as he was yesterday and will be tomorrow.  It's how I feel about his death that changes.  I have my birthday/anniversary (Artie married me for my birthday present) and Valentine's Day coming up.  I try to ignore that.  It's not being in the present to think of February while it is still December.  But like some people are waiting for January 2nd - part of me is waiting for March.

I have a lot of fun things scheduled in January and February.  They are things I am looking forward to. I know they will be lovely...but then will I have to scream?   I usually don't actually scream - but I do sometimes cry or curse.  I am impatient with life and with people.  I went out yesterday and was annoyed it was a beautiful day.  I wasn't in the mood for a beautiful day.  How silly is that?

Of course - I am trying to eat healthy food again.  Not medicating myself with sugar.  That makes me a lot more temperamental.  How normal and how self destructive improperly medicating ourselves is.

I am wandering off into a ramble.  Maybe finally writing this blog post is lovely but I am getting to the I have to scream now.  I do feel badly that I am not posting as often.  I am more productive than I used to be...but nowhere near where I could be.

I wish us all moments of pure loveliness and joy that are not colored with our grief.  I have those too.  I found myself wandering home after seeing a play with a friend and wound up in front of the giant Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center.  I didn't feel sorry for myself.  I thought about my granddaughter and how much she loved some of the adventures she had in New York City with Gammy and Mommy.  I smiled a real smile.

Here's to those real smiles - the ones that go all the way through.  Here's to noticing them when they happen and training ourselves to have more of them.  With love. xo

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