Second Anniversary

IMG_0542Today marks two years since Adam passed away at 4:30 in the afternoon. His parents and I were there, holding his hands, as he slipped away. The miraculous appearance of our priest, Lisa Frost-Phillips, allowed Adam to have last rites and for us to have a tiny sense of his well being as his spirit drifted away from us.

Last night I was thinking about that day. You know, I remember almost nothing of it until the moment it became apparent that he would pass away. I don’t know which of my wonderful caregivers was managing my house that day. I remember nothing of the day before. It was just another grinding day of going to hospice with my burdensome backpack to while away the hours of our vigil. Usually Adam’s parents stayed with him in the morning, then I arrived in the early afternoon while they returned to my parents’ house for lunch and a little rest. Thankfully we were all there when Adam’s final hour came.

For some crazy reason I didn’t have Lisa’s mobile number in my phone. I couldn’t reach her when Adam started to fade. I was terrified and distraught. And lo and behold she appeared. She appeared.

Also unusual on that day was Adam’s nurse, a woman we hadn’t seen in the two or so weeks he’d been at hospice. I thought we knew everyone. I like to call her the Angel of Death; I’m convinced she helped Adam along to the place in which he already dwelt in every way but one. It was time—beyond time. He was suffering. The angel helped.

I feel bad that I got the heck out of there as soon as Adam was pronounced. I didn’t linger to cry and hold his chilling hand. I felt that his soul had flown and that it was best that I did the same. I mean, now he would be everywhere, not just trapped in that betraying body. I didn’t have to stay to watch the funeral home van drive that body away.

So I drove to my mother’s house where many people were already gathered. I had to meet my sister there; she was driving in from vacation, and she would be devastated to hear that he had passed away before she could see him again. She was. Mom had to go get Caroline from camp and let her know, and bring her home. Fortunately Caro was able to return to her friends later that evening; they were better able to give her the comfort she needed than was our group of dazed mourners.

I do remember what I was wearing, as I always do in emotionally charged situations. I’ve worked hard to wear those clothes again, to divest them of the emotion that permeates every thread. Sometimes I succeed; sometimes I don’t.

Despite today’s laundry list of chores, it’s looking like I won’t get much done. Sadness is really debilitating. It’s like an on-board sedative dispensed by your body in order to get you through. So instead of the calls I was going to make and the errands I was going to run, I’m going to clip my neighbors’ crape myrtle blooms and set an arrangement beside Adam’s marker in St. Matthew’s’ memorial garden, and then I’m going to hang out for a while in the garden of Hellebores at Duke Gardens that was given by their friends in memory of Adam and Tom.

Last year at this time I was just glad to have made it a year. That achievement was a bit intoxicating and helped me make it through the day. Today I’m feeling a little more solemn.

And on this day I also remember all of my wonderful friends who helped our family through the 5 months of Adam’s illness. And I honor those who continue to help us out in so, so many ways. Thank you, friends. Love you, Adam. I still wear my rings for you, as I am still yours.

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Panic

Change after change after change. I guess this is some kind of lesson, as I really don’t like change. It puts me off my game. Panic comes first, then resignation, but during the whole of it my mind isn’t working. Kind of like when your dvr starts to die and the screen is pixelating all the time. That’s my brain on change.

If we review, there’s been a lot of change in the past two years. Really, I am over it. Not in the sense that I have integrated these changes into my life; oh no. In the sense that I am sick of it!

I’ve been down at my little beach shack for the past 10 days or so. A little refuge. Yesterday a For Sale sign went into my neighbors’ yard and sent me into another tailspin. You see, they own the vacant lot between us two, a lovely lot full of viny plants and saplings which form a dense thicket of privacy between us that plays host to a variety of birds and small animals. It’s delightful. It also buffers traffic noise from the nearby thoroughfare.

And it could all go away with a new buyer. Why do I know this will happen? Because an even dinkier shack than mine sits on half of that lot, and people these days want a beach *palace,* not a beach shack. Someone will build their palace on that nice double lot and suddenly I’m staring at their SUV and road sounds and their sounds are buffeting off of the concrete pad onto my lovely screened porch, while they stare at me and wonder why I’m still in my pajamas or not on the beach yet. Or their “friends” who came down for the weekend are in the back yard shooting firecrackers and leaving beer cans all over the place.

My only hope is that the place doesn’t sell. It’s a buyer’s market down here—much to choose from.

But it’s put a cherry on top of my deeply suppressed river of panic (sorry for the mixed metaphor but I just couldn’t come up with a way to fix it). I moved through my 25th anniversary ok (more about that as it continues to percolate), but this is just too much.

I also got the first college tuition bill this week, making that upcoming change more of a reality than ever.

The panic is building.

Milestones

Sometimes I just don’t want to write because I don’t want to think about where I am. Lately I’ve had neither the time nor the inclination to think of this because where I am is definitely not where I want to be or ever thought I would find myself, and the series of events that started with my children’s high school graduation and that will continue until they have moved into their college dorm rooms just rubs my face in it.

This is the big year. Prom, the kids’ graduation, our 25th anniversary, kids going to college. It was to be the start of our time as a couple, a time to get to know each other again as a once-frenetic pace slowed to something with more rhythm. Take some trips, hang out at the beach.

I simply suppressed the fact that he was not here in order to get through graduation. I’ll do it again when the kids move into their dorms and go to their first day of classes. I do it when Will tells me about his summer internship that would have pleased Adam so much. I’m going to do it in two days when we have our 25th anniversary and he is not here for a “then and now” facebook photo. I can’t deal with it so I’ll just pretend. Like I have been. Like one has to.

Two years ago grief was a gut-wrenching torrent of tears and sadness, incapacity and disbelief. Now it’s like a low fever, a chronic condition that allows you to function yet not at your best. Yeah, it’s time to be “over it,”right? See sentence number two of this paragraph. Chronic.

I feel the tears and sadness slowly being replaced by a slight bitterness and anger. In the early days of grief all I could utter was simply that we, and especially Adam, had been “ripped off.” That was all that would come out. Ripped off. About a month ago, though, my brain finally let fly with the litany of things I’m angry about. I can’t remember what my brain said but I finally had the strength let it fly.

It took me two years to be angry. Two years. If it took me that long to be angry, and that was just for a moment, I’m predicting that this chronic condition is going to be around for a pretty long time.