Staggering bouts of grief are no longer my reality. For this I am deeply thankful. Life seems to be finding its channel again, although this is obviously a new stream without the high banks I was used to before Adam passed away. Now the banks are low and the flow pushes over them fairly often, but then, just as quickly it seems, ebbs back into that new channel.
The old feelings still do come. Tonight I had to spend quite some time stretching and using my foam roller on some very tight muscles that I fear are the result of my new spinning obsession. Re-obsession, really. Honestly, that hour I spend on the bike each Tuesday and Friday is, right now, the most centering time in my life. As with all good things, it seems to come with a price, which I’m happy to pay (as long as it doesn’t get worse!).
As I stretched and rolled tonight I was listening to one of my favorite Pandora stations, simply called Ambient. The stream was peppered with poignant tunes that I just felt Adam was sending to me to say, “I’m here.” I wondered if it was silly to believe after all this time that he is sending me music, Despite that, I do believe it. It makes me feel better. If I’m wrong I don’t care.
My psychologist has told me that I need to take more time for myself, especially since the kids are home for the summer. Self-care–that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. I counted tonight’s stretching and such as that.
I have also realized that as part of my self-care it is time to return to church. Not the kind of full-throttle return that I was tempted to. No, a gentle re-entry, going every now and then, not volunteering for anything. Just showing up. Last Sunday was the fifth Sunday of May, the occasion of our church’s sharing services at the AME church in town. All right! I’d never been to a black church and was totally up for it. I cruised over from St. Matthew’s after a short service of Morning Prayer.
What a wallop.
First of all, I had met the church’s pastor before. He and our rector were in Winston-Salem the day that Adam had his craniotomy at Wake Forest and stopped by to check in with us in the ICU. That dramatic day was the day I met this man. As I remembered that meeting, it wasn’t a shock, it didn’t take me by surprise, and the fact of it was strangely but thankfully benign. All was well.
At the end of the children’s sermon, as the kids returned to their seats, the congregation started singing “Jesus Loves Me.” Oh. No. I had not heard this song since we sang it at Dad’s memorial service almost a year ago. Boom! Tears. Big ones overflowing the banks of that shallow stream. Oh great. I was totally unprepared. No tissues. Taken by surprise. Ambushed. And then everything was emotion. I started focusing on the preacher, feeling again the emotion of that evening that he came to visit us. Thinking of my dad, whose loss I *still* have not grieved properly. Crushing. Right there before God and everybody.
Despite my lack of preparedness I reigned myself in and made it through the rest of the service, but hot-footed it out of there before anyone could get between me and the door. Thankfully I had walked over from our church, and the walk back through town was therapeutic. I took a little moment to sit in the Memorial Garden upon my return to St. Matthew’s, on the wall between the markers for Adam and Dad, and it was good.
So when my sister sent me the photo above, I began to think again about the past few days and weeks, and how grief has changed yet still runs in the background. It has indeed become that which I predicted long ago–a chronic disease that flares now and again, but not an acute condition.