Sunday, March 28, 2010

These dreams

It happened again last night, or, rather, in the early hours of this morning.  I was in that place that is not awake, but not fully asleep, either:  cognizant of my thoughts, despite their rapid, seemingly random swirling across my brain.  It was almost like a dream, but not that fully formed--just thoughts, rather than events.  But I was thinking that I needed to get A's mail for him, because he'd been away so long.  And then I thought, I haven't heard from him in awhile.  And then somehow I became just conscious enough to clear up my own confusion.  That's right; he died.  That's why I haven't heard from him.  Boom!

Weirdness abounds in this.  The primary weirdness is that I've had this exact same barely conscious conversation with myself twice now in the last 6 months or so.  In my entire life, I've had three recurring dreams:  one was of being chased through houses of many, many rooms by something/someone I can't see but I know is there.  One is of moving back to my childhood home in Upper Michigan.  And the last is of driving without my headlights on, and I can't see, and yet I still keep driving, panicked because I can't seem to stop the car, and I still have no idea what is ahead of me, and I'm trying desperately to see but just can't. 

So it seems strange that I've got a new one, and it's strange that it would happen now, as I head towards my fourth year without him.  Is a part of me still expecting to hear from him like I always did?  Or is this about the visitations and the big, obvious signs that stopped some time ago?  Has it been so long now that its just too long for even my subconscious to take?

And what's weirder yet is that somehow, somewhere, just for a moment in my sleep, I managed to forget.  I managed to forget that he was dead.  I managed to forget the tear-soaked last 3+ years.  I managed to forget all the trauma around his death and dealing with his family.  I managed to forget how his absence has colored my every day since then to varying degrees.  It was only for a moment, and I wasn't even really awake to enjoy it, but there was a freedom in that moment.  There was endless room to move in a casual musing of, "Hmmm...I wonder why I haven't heard from him?" like he'd been on a trip, and was slightly delayed in contacting me. 

Until I remembered.  I wouldn't say that the remembrance came back violently.  Just irrefutably. 

I have spent all this time getting used to the idea that he is gone and is not coming back.  I have done all this work accepting the reality of his incomprehensible death.  I have lived (begrudgingly) with the truth of his absence every single day for the last 1,351 days.  So how is it even possible that part of me is still fighting it?  How could I forget, even in the fog of sleep and dreams?  How can I still be confused on the point?

Why am I bothered by this?  I guess I'm annoyed and feeling a little betrayed by a subconscious that would tease me like this.  It seems cruel.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Sweetie. I love you.

The other day, as I was blowing out the candle I light for him every night and kissing his picture to say good night, I surprised myself by not really feeling sad.  I mulled it for a couple of days, because, frankly, I thought it odd, and I realized that it wasn't just that I wasn't feeling sad; it was that I wasn't feeling anything at all in that moment.  There was zero emotional content to that context; I was...not numb...just...vacant, I guess.
It was then that I realized that it wasn't that I DIDN'T feel anything; it's that I WOULDN'T.  The facts are always available, and I never shy away from them.  But I don't let myself delve much deeper than that these days, it seems.  It's as if I can look into my heart, and see the locked box that holds the hardest feelings:  the pain, the emptiness, the missing him, the sorrow.  It's right there, in plain enough sight.  And I hold the key to the box in my hand.  But I walk right on by.  I don't deny it's there, but I don't open it.
Because what good would it do?  Will it do me any good to cry about it for the millionth time?  Will it change anything if I let myself hurt for him some more?  Will it do anything but ruin my day and make my nose stuffy and my eyes puffy?  What's the point of stirring up the yearning that cannot be satisfied?
It's a coping skill, to be sure.  Self-protective.  The triumph of intellect over emotion.  I always say "feel what you feel when you feel it," but I'm not sure how that works when you don't feel it, or rather, when you've chosen not to feel it because you've felt it eleventy billion times and it never feels any different.  It never feels anything but bad.
I've been thinking about this on and off ever since, about how I'm actively keeping the emotions at arm's length at this point.  And what's funny is that I was actually keeping the thinking about actively keeping emotions at a distance at arm's length, as well.  It was an intellectual acknowledgement, with only a brief consideration of this new insight about myself and how I'm dealing (or rather, not) with grief at this point in the journey.  (I must say, I've joined those who dislike the word "journey" for this, but I don't know another word that comes close enough to this indescribable path, so I'll keep using it for now.)
But the truth of it hit me today as I posted at the board about it being A's birthday.  In my post, I wished him a happy birthday, and expressed my gratitude that he was born.  It was this last bit that saw that locked box fly open of its own accord; it didn't even need my key.  I felt that tell-tale heat behind my eyes, and the ache in my throat.  It's all still there, even if I don't take it out and look at it every day.
So what then?  Where is the fine line between stuffing your feelings down and accepting what control you happen to have over your feelings?
I suppose I have to trust the process; it's gotten me this far.  I've got no other ideas, and I'll only overthink it with no answers if I try; I've had enough of that particular hamster wheel.
In a slight tangent, E and I were watching Caprica last night.  There are several bereaved folks in the show, one of them the mother of a daughter connected to the terrorist organization who set the bomb that killed her daughter, among many others.  As she mused under the effects of potent wine, she said, "Surviving is the punishment for leaving things unsaid." 
It rang like truth to me, and, I imagine, to any other survivors who happened to hear it.
Not that I actually believe I'm being punished by some divine authority; but that's how it feels, regardless.  The maelstrom of killer feelings that we so neatly label "grief" could never be neutral, let alone benign.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Happy F'ing Birthday

My mother, whose birthday is Friday, has informed me on several occasions in the last couple of months that she is not having a birthday this year; neither will she be having any more birthdays, ever.  I suppose this is just typical of women of a certain age in our youth-worshipping culture, but I have to say, it really annoys me.

My mother was born exactly 1 year and 3 days before A, which means he also has a birthday coming up.  But he will never be 59, like he should be this year.  He will forever be 55 years and 4 months old.  And that's why I'm annoyed:  Because there are people who truly are not having any more birthdays.  And it's not because they're vain about their age, or squeamish about admitting the number.  It's because they're dead.

It's because they're fucking dead.

I recognize that I obviously have issues about this, but I kind of want to shake my mom.  Shake her right out of her bullshit vanity and her petty self-pity about getting older, because she should appreciate every additional birthday given to her.  Not everyone is so lucky.  As of Friday, she will have received 5 more years of experiences than A got.  I joke with her when she gripes about it that getting old sure beats the alternative.   But only the tone of my voice is joking; I'm serious.

Serious as a heart attack.

I mean, seriously, none of us grows younger.  It's not even an option, so you're much better off considering only the realistic options.  And when it comes to birthdays, you have a choice of getting older, or dying.  Would she rather be dead? 

I want to scream, "Shut up, and enjoy your god-damned birthday cake, and the fact that the people who love you still get the chance to show it!" 
Of course I don't.