Thursday, July 29, 2010


I was searching old e-mails this morning looking for a wedding picture of my folks', who have a milestone anniversary coming up on Sunday.  I thought I'd sent it to someone, and I searched on "wedding."  Lots of e-mails came up, but one in particular caught my eye.  It was one of several I'd sent to a dear friend just a day after I found out A had died.  In the first response, he said this:  "But for some reason, call it my lack of faith in humankind, I can easily see them dismissing your role in the last several years of [A's] life. This is what worries me."  He was talking about A's family, who had said they wanted to meet me.  I assured him that they had been kind so far, but several volleys back and forth later, I was writing about how they excluded me from the funeral.
My friend had been right, and just reading about it is so hard, even 4 years later.  I don't know why I kept reading; the raw grief and the foreshadowing of what ultimately happened with his made me feel sick to my stomach.  I'm kind of surprised that the e-mails I wrote were as coherent as they were; maybe that was the shock, because soon enough, I would feel like I'd lost my mind.  I lost so much.  I feel so bad for that woman who wrote those e-mails.  It's me, of course, but not.
In other news, I had a buddy at breakfast this morning.  Outside the dining room window, framed perfectly in the middle and sitting on a branch, was a hummingbird.  That first year after A died, I came to be able to count on having a hummingbird join me for nearly every meal I ate in there, sitting in much the same spot.  I knew it was from him.  But it hasn't happened in a long, long time.  So it was especially nice this morning; I've been missing him more than usual lately.  And I guess he knows.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Change of template

When I checked on my blog tonight, I noticed that my old template had tanked, and that Blogger itself had new options, so I decided to peruse them. The very last one was this one, and clearly, it was meant for me, for this blog in particular. There are no coincidences.


Last week, E and I joined some folks from the online bulletin board where I met A in Vegas, where we got to visit and get to know each other in meatspace.  It was a nice enough time.  I thought often how, had he been here, A would've shown up, too.
Last night, I got a private message from one of the participants about photos of the gathering.  I took exactly 3, 2 of which were of my gorgeous bathroom; I just didn't feel like carrying a camera around, and I wasn't going to post them anyway.  I'm anonymous at all my bulletin boards, as are most of the others in our group.  I explained that to him, and he said he was sorry I wouldn't, sorry that people would miss out on my "wonderful smile."
I appreciated the compliment.  No one has complimented my smile since A; no one has commented on it at all except for noting its absence or limited enthusiasm in the last 4 years.  A loved my smile, loved making me laugh, and he told me so.  He appreciated my smile, and he appreciated me in a way more whole than anyone has my whole life.  I always felt like I sparkled in his eyes.  Maybe that's because it was new love, and maybe now it would be different.  I don't know.  But I loved that feeling, and loved him even more for making me feel...special.
I also appreciated the compliment because it may indicate that I have learned to smile fully again.  I caught myself many times while we were there laughing loudly; maybe too loudly, I wondered, but brushed it off.  Laughter should be loud, and full, and uninhibited, and echo across a world where we have so much reason to weep.  I have earned it.
Since Vegas, and last night's PM, though, I find A is on my mind a lot, and that I'm given to conjuring up images of him in my head, both memories of my own and imagining him in situations I never saw him in.  Just bringing him here, to me.  I am okay, as I told the one person who asked (she, too, is a board widow, but without the support system I've been lucky to have from a widda posse), but I miss him so much, too.
Lately, I've been wrestling a bit with this new duality--not with a lot of angst, but I can't really reconcile it.  Maybe I'm not supposed to?  When A first died, there was the duality of "This is cannot be true" vs. reality; then there was the duality of "I'm supposed to keep living" vs. "God, I feel so unimaginably, indescribably awful, death would be a relief."  Then there was the duality of "I'm healing" vs. "I don't really want to move forward."  There was a long stretch of "I'm existing" vs. "I'm living."  And now I'm here, where I am largely in a good place...except for those moments I'm not.  And except for the wound that appears healed from the outside but is still an empty space inside me.  It doesn't hurt most of the time, but the emptiness of "nothing I can do" is palpable.  It's like the space where a tooth has fallen out; it doesn't really hurt, but you can't quite leave it alone; your tongue keeps examining the space where something used to be.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

4 years today.

It wasn't the first thing I thought of this morning.  It was about the third, and then it was "Right...the 15th." 
Right.  The 15th.
I think the hardest thing to deal with today is the number:  4.  4 years.  I just don't like that I now have to say (on those rare occasions when I need to), "He died 4 years ago." It is so long, and yet perfectly meaningless, because I can't understand how it can be 4 years.  I feel like there's some expectation I, or others, had about it, but I can't say what that is.   I'm  I'm okay.  If I don't think about it, I'm okay.  Maybe I should stop marking these anniversaries.
As if I could.
Thanks to those who commented on my last post for your support.  I really do appreciate it. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Reflections at 4 years

It is now officially the day before the 4th sadiversary of A's passing. I say “officially,” because it's just past midnight, and no decent person should be awake now, but I am.

I found out tonight that one of my best friends is moving across the country. Like next week. I knew it was coming this year, but had no idea it was happening so soon. I've been awake pondering my widow entitlement issues...the ones where I think that I shouldn't have to lose anything or anyone else in any way because I lost A, and that's more than enough for one lifetime. I know it sounds ridiculous when I say it. Nonetheless, my inner widow is, evidently, 5 years old and is stamping her little foot and saying, “No, dang it! No more.”

My 38-year-old self would use stronger language.

It's what's best for my friend, and what she's wanted for a long time, and for that, I want to be happy for her. But I've cried a little, what I'm sure will not be the last tears on this subject. I will see her Saturday before she leaves on Wednesday, and then who knows when I'll see her. She hasn't even met my new dog! How can she leave now? Or rather, the real question is, "How can she leave me, too?"

So I'm awake and feeling sorry for myself. My mind is running on two tracks, though, as it often has in the last 4 years. The one track is the emotional “I hate this” track, and pity-party central. The other track is the one where I've learned that I can be faced with unpleasantness (often in the unimaginable extreme) and shrug, because, hey, shit happens and there's not a damn thing I can do about it.

I am pleasantly surprised to realize that I'm in pretty good shape so far this week. I am totally aware of Thursday's milestone; it doesn't stray far from my thoughts and hasn't all month, but I'm feeling reasonably strong, even if my emotions are easily stirred. It doesn't help that I'm hormonal and I've been sweating in an 85-degree house for 2 weeks now; tends to make me cranky under the best of circumstances. I was talking to E about it tonight, and he mentioned those things, and I reminded him that it was the anniversary of A's death, too, and seriously, what else could be piled on this week?

Then I got the e-mail from my friend who's moving; why do I tempt the Fates in this manner? What the hell is wrong with me???

Where am I at at 4 years? Let's see... I finally weaned myself from the widow board in recent months. I've only been back twice in the last 3-4 months, and both of those were me testing myself to see if I would get sucked back in. I did not. Prior to insisting to myself that I walk away (for good, this time—I've tried before and always went back), I spent a lot of time there, out of habit and boredom, especially at work (see the aforementioned boredom), but I started realizing that being there, even when I was trying to help others, I wasn't helping me. Every visit yanked me right back into grief central, and even though I didn't break down in it, it had a definite effect of depressing my mood, and taking me out of the present moment, and my present life. And I had the sense that if I was going to make this life work, I had to focus on it, not just this one aspect of my life, which was becoming a scab I was reopening myself every time I logged in. The support of other widows is invaluable, even now; the raw hash of drama, demons, and death that is the board no longer serves me, nor I it, I think.

I'm not sure that I've gotten over the existential crisis that was a long epilogue to active grieving. It's not that I've lost the sense that most things in life are pointless (at least unto themselves); I still think that, but it's in a more benign way, in that I think it's supposed to be. It's that I've found a way (most days) to see that the value isn't necessarily obvious, or discernible beyond there being a value to any and all experiences. I'm trying to accept the idea that, as far as my purposes as an earthling are concerned, sorrow is as valuable as joy, even if it's not as pleasurable. It's a hard sell, but I'm working on it. My mind on that second track accepts that intellectually, but I know I don't really understand it in my bones, in a way that allows me to rejoice in it all, without a trace of self-pity. My current incarnation just isn't that evolved. Yet.

I think a lot about my potential next life. I joke about not coming back unless I have a strong, healthy athletic body that doesn't plague me, and also I want to be rich, and still play music. But more often, in the quiet of my own head, I think that I would not come back. I cannot imagine why I'd ever give up getting it, understanding it all, to come back here and muddle through life again, blind and ignorant; hell, I can't imagine why I did it this time. What was I thinking? I wish I knew.

I have had 4 years to get used to A's absence...the fact of his death. (I needed to use the word “death” at least once here...I tend to avoid it even now.) And in terms of the day-to-day, I am used to it. Even so, the other morning I woke up with that thought again, about how I sure don't talk to him like I used to...why is that?...oh yeah... I don't talk to him as much as I used to because HE'S BEEN DEAD FOR 4 YEARS. Jesus, what is that?

That's my soul speaking; it hasn't gotten used to A's absence one bit. My brain gets it, and soldiers on, but my heart....for my heart, it happened yesterday. And when my heart and my brain try to get it straight once again, and my head says “You know this...” and my heart says “Seriously? He's dead? How the fuck did that happen? That's not supposed to happen! Doesn't he know that I need him and love him as much as ever, possibly more, and he's supposed to be here?”

Because that's the truth. I've got my life all back together. I'm not wandering about in abject nihilism. I'm creating and living and my relationship with E is strong. But it doesn't matter; the missing him hits me so hard sometimes. I miss him terribly, and still have so much I want to share with him, to talk over with him; I miss his company so much, and his unconditional support, and his wit. My only defense at this point (and I'm grateful to have the strength to be able to do it) is to not let myself go there, not too deeply, anyway. But sometimes, it comes upon me so fast, I don't even have that.

It goes just as quickly, and I know that it probably will. After 4 years, I have no doubts about my ability to survive a grief wave. And I suppose that's given me the confidence in my ability to survive just about anything this life throws at me; the only question is whether I want to. I'm still tired, if I am honest with myself. Sometimes I wonder if the good parts of life ARE enough to outweigh the bad ones. It won't make the difference as to whether I live or die; it'll just make the difference as to whether I skip through my remaining years, enjoying and marveling at my experiences, or slog through wondering when I can be excused from the table. I still have these moments, these thoughts, that amount to “Sure, I'll play your little game (for the next 60 years)...what else am I gonna do? But I see that you're jerking me around; don't think for a second that I don't, and I don't appreciate it!”

After 4 years, my thoughts still tend to go instantly to the worst-case scenario. Tonight, E and I had to go get some paperwork notarized, and I ended up at the place a good 10 minutes before he did, because of how we hit traffic, though we left at the same time. By minute 3 of waiting for him, he was already dead in a terrible car accident and I wondered how I'd find out and what was I going to do about the A/C? And then his car finally rolled into the parking lot, and I nonchalantly asked “What happened to you?” Nonchalant my ass; I'm just dialing back the panic and hoping no one can see. This can happen to me several times a day, with everyone I know, and I hate it. It's the dark side of “The cup is already broken.” Everyone I know is already dead; I'm just waiting for the call. That's what it comes down to, and I hate it. I hate the scenarios I create. They are creepy as hell, and I have this deep, barely acknowledged fear (thanks to The Secret, and thousands of other guru-types that have permeated my consciousness) that by imagining them, I will manifest them in some way. I don't really believe that, but I'll be the first to admit I don't have the universe all figured out. What if I'm wrong? It's fucking neurotic, and I wish I could stop, but I can't seem to. My parents are on a 3-day roadtrip, and I start imagining them (in a bit of maternal irony) dead in the ditch somewhere across 10 states, and have to cut myself off. All I can do is try to stop the scenario in progress from moving forward by distracting myself. I suspect this is going to be a life-long battle, too. When someone you love dies suddenly, you know that anyone else can as well.

I guess the good news at 4 years is that I'm not freaking out about this sadiversary (so far), I am able to examine my feelings without being overwhelmed by them, I am reasonably content in my life, and I know I've come a long, long way in positive directions despite the stuff that still plagues me. And I keep doing it the way I've been doing it since that day 4 years ago: breathe in, breathe out, one foot in front of the other. There is no other way. I guess I've learned that, too.

I love you, Sweetie; I miss you. Stop by if you're around, wouldja, please?

Friday, July 9, 2010


What's awesome is PMSing right up to D-day.  Because it just wouldn't be hard enough otherwise.