Playing for Keeps

I’ve neglected you, friends. I guess you’re used to it by now. My only excuse is that perhaps my posts become more widely spaced as I heal. But much has happened since that last post when I crashed after having felt so good. It’s all been a little confused and disconcerting.

Well first of all, my hard disk crashed (did it feel my pain?) and I had to deal with that, but I did so successfully and didn’t lose any of my stuff! I did it without help from Adam; well, earthly help. Had he been here I’d have handed the whole issue over to him. But instead, I figured it out myself, cured my hard disk problem long enough to make an excellent backup, bought a new computer, transferred my data, and even found and reinstalled my lost email boxes, which were important to me because they included lots of emails from Adam and from Tom.

One of the emails from Tom that I recovered was sent to us right after Adam’s diagnosis. He was giving us a treatment protocol but also a pep talk, telling Adam he would beat it. I know he knew better, and he knew he wouldn’t beat it either. It was a race against time; who would survive the longest?

Well I could post a thousand-word piece. Instead I’ll post something new over the next few days about what’s been going on.

Tonight I want to say that I watched a movie called Playing for Keeps. The first comment I’d like to make is that if you know someone with a Gaelic accent of any kind, please send him my way. The second thing is a more serious thought I’ve had many times since Adam’s death.

This is the worst breakup of my life, the worst breakup imaginable. I admit to never really having a boyfriend before Adam, so those who know me well may think this statement of mine rings false. But I think of others who suffer that horrible first-love break-up, a divorce, whatever. Although I really think divorce is worse for many reasons, there is the aspect of your once-loved-one still being in this realm and available for communication.

In the movie I could feel the characters’ continuing love for each other, and I envied their opportunity for reunion. At the same time I’m relieved to know that my husband always loved me and there was never rancor between us.

Tomorrow I want to write about the ladies I met in my bereavement support group.


Oh my. How did a day that was filled with energy, focus, and laughter end in raindrop tears running down my face as I drove home in the dark?

I’ve been silent, it’s true, and I have some catching up to do.

The truth is that I’ve been feeling really good. As silly as it sounds to a logical person, the passing of the dreaded “one-year anniversary” made a new woman of me. How can a date on a calendar have a transformative emotional effect? I really don’t know, but I don’t care and I’m just thankful for it.

Since July 28 I have felt free and empowered. I have felt cut loose; I’ve felt that Adam is telling me to get on with my life already, and I have tried to comply. It’s been great. And because I felt he gave me permission, I’ve felt no guilt at all. Besides, I made a pledge as soon as he was diagnosed that I’d be doing my best and would have no regrets because there was no proven path to follow.

Today was especially rewarding. It started early, for me, with an unwelcome but necessary pre-op visit to the doc who will be doing my first colonoscopy on September 17. Yee ha. Well he is a great guy and talked to me about some other stuff and I left there feeling understood and hopeful.

The rest of the day proceeded in much the same way. Lots of successful and non-irritating errands (unusual!), had my hair cut and laughed with my wonderful stylist almost the whole time (thank you Michael!), even had a tolerable time at the grocery store.

Went to my bereavement support group and we coalesced there like never before. It was really great. I’m kind of an oddball in that group so it was nice to feel a part of things, and to hang out, talking, afterward. What a great bunch of beautiful women. (Not surprised, by the way.)

The surprise was in the music. This is how Adam lets me know he’s around. I doubt that any of you will mock me for my beliefs, but I do believe that Adam’s spirit is with me constantly and that when I need him most he speaks to me in a language I will understand, and mostly that language is music. Popular music that we both loved, or even songs I’ve discovered since his death. My feeling is that he is now an all-encompassing spirit, and that he, like all spirits, comes into my life when I most need him and gives me strength and courage.

On my ride to Hillsborough tonight, the first song on my ipod was one I’ve listened to since my senior year in high school, and it has always given me strength. I listened to it during the hard first year of college, and I learned to play it on the piano so that I could pound it out whenever I was feeling angry, misunderstood, aggressive, dismissed. The lyrics really make no sense but that’s the 80s for ya. “When You See a Chance” by Steve Winwood. Arc of a Diver. I blasted it on those country roads to H’boro. As I neared the bereavement center, an odd choice appeared: Like a Prayer by Madonna. Ok I’m sure she didn’t write that thing to soothe my bereaved soul, but if you listen from my point of view it is heart-wrenching. “Just like a prayer your voice can take me there.” That’s right. This is spiritual, not physical, and it’s as potent.

Then it was group time. Like I always do I talked too much. But I’ve had quite a week, in retrospect, and I felt like sharing my experiences and getting everyone’s input. First there was the spectacular day I’d had: for the first time in who knows how long I could tell my stylist I was feeling great. Second, I did a ton of errands and got it all accomplished without feeling exhausted. (I must give some credit to the spectacular iced coffee available at Bull St. Market: It’s already cold and there are coffee ice cubes. In my opinion this makes it the only venue in town worth patronizing for an iced coffee.) And mostly it was just great that I had been feeling so confident lately. No depleting crying for hours on the floor. No days curled up in my chair or on the bed. My exercise classes were resuming. Great.

Support group was terrific. We seemed to coalesce for the first time. It was visibly apparent that one of our members was really helped by what others of us had to say. So rewarding. So gratifying, and so validating. I know that’s a stupid word but there it is.

Afterward a few of us hung out talking about stuff that maybe wasn’t appropriate to share within the confines of the group. It was great. These are truly wonderful women with whom I would love to remain in touch.

And then I got in the car to go home and the ipod was playing again: the remainder of Like a Prayer; Tears in Heaven; Silent Sea; Every Breath You Take; When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (remember this is a random shuffle of 1600+ songs of varying genres), and finally, Thankful, by Rumer.

If you don’t know Rumer, go to iTunes immediately and download “Seasons of My Soul.” If you mourn, listen carefully to the last verses of “Thankful.” They will break your heart and console you all at the same time. It’s just so nice to know that someone understands.

I mean, isn’t that what we’re all about here? Understanding and supporting each other through the most horrific thing, “breakup,” imaginable?

Some of the ladies and I were discussing tonight what it’s like for us, having lost a spouse, versus what it’s like for our children, having lost a parent. Most of my support-group friends are my mother’s age, so the children are my age and have lost a parent. This is much different. There is the comfort, albeit small, of “the order of things.” For my kids, that comfort is not present, and for me, and possibly for my new friends, and for you readers, it’s the worst imaginable break-up. Again I reference popular music but that is what has always mirrored my emotions and it continues to do so.

I apologize for such a long post. I’ve been imagining that I’m doing really well, and I think I am, but times like tonight remind me that the road is long, winding, uphill, and cruel. It is not to be walked without sturdy boots, and a good walking stick, also known as friends and family.

Love to you all. Thank you for being my support, for reading my ramblings. Your responses, and just “likes,” mean more than you will ever know.