It’s not you, it’s me (and this big black hole)

20130727-092210.jpgIf you don’t mind, I need to curl up in a ball. Right now. Right here. In this chair.

I don’t care that I am surrounded by people. I don’t care that it’s a staff meeting, and we’re celebrating national ice cream month. That’s how these things go down, that’s how grief comes round. I know it’s a corporate formality, but please do not ask me how I am doing today, unless you really want the truth along with my salty tears topping your sundae.

Because some days it hits you so hard, you have to pull over to the side of the road before you drive off of it. Then, you dust yourself off, and head to a staff meeting….

There might be a few who wonder, casually, what was it like to lose your husband? But no one has ever asked me. People are conscientious, careful, and tender-footed around the topic of death. That’s just how it is.

I can tell you this…when my husband died, a big black hole opened up right next to me. And there it remains. It will probably be there for the rest of my life, in some capacity or another. That’s what they say about this kind of loss. Most days now, I am able to drag myself out, and slither around the perimeter, see ya’ later, sucker! I’ve got my cuppa’ joe, gotta’ go, that’s right, watch me get up and walk, (I mean crawl), away. I might even ignore that bugger entirely for a day or two, now. That’s good. That’s progress. I’ll take it.

But no so fast, eh? Not today!

‘Cuz the forces start pulling on you, in the middle of a restless night, those freaky arms start dragging you down. You wake up exhausted, too tired to shower, too tired to care, and very, very confused by the strange, deranged, “fact” that he’s gone. Too hard to imagine what it would be like? It is for me, too. I’m not special, or super-human. I can’t “imagine” it either, that’s why it’s taking so long to process, to heal. I still can’t believe it. But I have to live with it. His death. Who knew, something so concrete, something so undebatably undeniable, would be so hard to grasp?

So, yes, I continue to show up. I’m at this meeting, but I cried on my way down the hall. And I just can’t eat the ice cream at the social today; I don’t have the strength. I’m wrestling the pull of the big black hole, you have no idea how exhausting it is. Sign up for a marathon? Not after this doozy. I don’t even know if I’ve hit rock bottom yet, grief has so many layers. No offense, all water-cooler, work-talk aside, how am I doing today? How do you think? I’m too tired to lie. My husband is still dead, and I can barely swallow the fact. Not after a year, not even as “soft-serve” with peanuts, caramel, and fucking multi-colored, stupid-ass sprinkles on top…

It’s just one of those days, ok? Please let me curl up and ride it out.

(Your love is better than ice cream….)

I’ve got a bad case of the Tuesdays…

photo 4There is some other-wordly power that gets me going on Mondays. Ok, let’s do this. Start the week, get it rolling, an object in motion stays in motion, get in the shower, put on some clothes, feed the dog, start the car, drive to work, there you are.

After my husband died, some other-worldly power got me through my first year, too. Or perhaps I don’t give myself enough credit. Let me re-phrase: somehow, I got myself through the first year. I DID IT. But I don’t know how. I wasn’t myself. I was beside myself. Like Tuesday, cast in the shadow of Monday.

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Just another week at the office

“Hey, I am working on a t-shirt design for a memorial run. Wanna’ see it, give me some feedback? You heard about that runner in Sun Prairie who was killed by the pastor who was driving drunk…? It was crazy. Horrible. So tragic.”

(Ok, I’ll look at the design. I can be objective. I don’t feel quite as sensitive about death, accidents, hospitals, tragedies, as I did a few months ago. Just breathe.)

“So why did you move to Madison?”

(Oh no! Not that question again!! I hate that question!! I moved here because my husband got a job here. Phew. There! Done! I didn’t even have to mention that he is now…dead. And that I have no idea what I am still doing here. And that I get very confused about what’s next, and start to feel my heart race in anxiety when I think about trying to sell our house. Just breathe, let people move onto another topic, order lunch.)

“Yeah, we were pretty worried about our dog. She had to have surgery to remove two cancerous tumors. But they said she’ll be ok.”

(Oh. Ok. That’s starting to hit a little close to home. They were able to spare a dog. But not my husband. Stay calm, keep it cool. It’s not the same thing. Focus on your salad. Don’t think about cancer.)

“Oh, so you live in Sun Prairie? Isn’t that where that runner got killed…?”

“Yeah! She was our neighbor…!”

(Geez, are we back on this topic again? I am starting to feel a bit sick, here. I wish this Department lunch wasn’t taking place at a restaurant. I am not feeling calm, objective, or hungry anymore. Might need to get up and leave.)

“No way. I coached her son in hockey…”

“Crazy! Horrible.Tragic!”

(Ok, can we please, PLEASE, move on now? Surely people know when to stop talking about death around someone who just experienced a lot of it…)

“Well, people, you think that’s bad, our accountant’s husband died suddenly. Pulmonary embolism. Then the very next day, out of the blue, her mom died. What on earth do you do when when something like that happens?”

B*I*N*G*O!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  You just hit the target!! It was bound to happen, things were building up, but thanks for the cherry on top! After all, my dad and husband just died last year. Did you already forget? Why ask the question hypothetically? I am sitting right here and can tell you first-hand how it feels. How would that be for a little light lunch conversation? I can throw in all kinds of stomach churning details if you’d like.

(Instead, I somehow managed to say, “Ok, can we stop talking about death now?”, and barely excused myself from the table before the tears hit.)

Just another week at the office…navigating emotional landmines and lunch. Not the worst week. But not the best one either. Sometimes work is a safe place. But sometimes, when you are grieving, no place is a safe place. Though, I never really thought death or cancer were great lunch topics, even before my husband and dad died.

Looking for signs of life…

(Or Movie Mash-up: “Get busy living, or get busy dying, Dude.”)

Shawshank Redemption. Good movie. No, GREAT movie. It was on last week and I watched it for the hundredth time. I was reminded of the quote, “get busy living, or get busy dying.” I also watched the Big Lebowski…the Dude. I had forgotten most of it, and it had me busting out laughing. Every morning now, I hear the soundtrack in my head, asking to “see what condition my condition is in”….

I was in a very dark place recently. And while in this “condition”, many things happened. Mostly, I was mourning the loss of my husband, remembering the months we spent in the hospital, worrying that I will forget his wonderful qualities, wondering if I will ever come out of my grief. Have I made a single step forward? I often feel stagnant, boxed in by a very narrow vision of my self.

When I started this blog, I didn’t know what I was doing, or why. Stuff was just pouring out of me. It had to come out. But not without some trepidation, about sharing publicly. Worried that no one would read it, worried that anyone would read it. When I got my first follower, I had a panic attack. Then, as others started following, I got even more confused. Why are they even reading this dark shit? I haven’t posted anything funny for weeks! And why do I even feel the need to be funny? This is a blog about loss. Again…what am I doing? Why? Continue reading

And then there was quiet.

I know what’s been going on this week. I have been here before. Raging and railing against grief. I recognize the fight. But this go around has been particularly brutal. I felt out of control, like it was controlling me.

Then, finally, as I was shoveling snow last night, crying, there came a quiet voice. Enough, little creature. Enough. Put down the shovel. Stop fighting.

Standing in the cold, surrounded by sparkling snow and a sparkling sky, it became clear. Grief is a gift. In the face of emptiness, the incomprehensible hole left by his death, grief gives me something to fight against. Denial, anger, frustration, pain. Fight it I will, many more times, I am sure. Every round, wildly throwing punches at the shadow of death, until I am tired out, cried out, knocked-out on the floor. Continue reading

Our house.

DSC01704There’s a strange phenomenon taking place in my house. It’s not a huge place. We always thought it was the perfect size, for two, and possibly a third. But I just realized, as I went upstairs to my office, that I hadn’t been up there in days. Maybe even weeks. It almost felt like I was walking into a stranger’s office…a half empty mug of coffee, dried up and hardened on the table, papers here and there, a poster had started curling off the wall. It looked abandoned. Un-lived in. Un-loved. It would seem that I’m only living in half of the house.

And then there’s the matter of the old calendar, stuck and spooling in the month of December. I can’t bring myself to take it down. While I know I should be kind and patient with myself, I can’t help but wonder about me, and my life, circling around in the twilight zone of last year. In this house, where rooms are half empty, half clean, a mess of his stuff and mine, some things have been moved, to accommodate some semblance of future as a single dweller, and some things, like the little bowl with two pills (one of the last things my husband touched) are practically cemented in place. Relics of another time.

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The nature of it…

DSC00876We all know how nature is. The truth of it. You find a baby bird on the ground, its wobbly head and paper-thin skin, and you debate…and worry…and try to make the “right” decision, a decision that is “of nature”, when our humanity crosses paths with the wild of it.

And this time, perhaps you are able to get the little chirper back in the nest. And then you cross those fingers that mama bird, and mother nature will accept your intervention.

I know I can’t escape my sadness. The truth of it. That I too, am injured, vulnerable, a wounded animal that no one can save. And so we all sit, in different places, hoping, perhaps praying, or back to doing dishes, then down for a good night of sleep, not knowing if that baby bird will survive the night, or ever take a first flight.

It’s the nature of it. Of life and love, and trying to help someone who has suffered a loss.

Sometimes the most comforting thought to me, is being rescued by my husband’s beautiful strong hands, as he gently places me back in the nest. Broken wings, barely breathing, that he loved me, and cared for me, if even for just a short moment, that’s enough to get this little bird through the night.