Ghosts

It’s coming. Facebook has been quite reliable about reminding me on my personal page that this week is bringing memories I’d rather not revisit. A particularly evil “memory” from them began with me writing that Adam was in the last days of his life. Somehow this doesn’t seem consistent with what Facebook is after, but what do I know?
What I do know is that after having shut down my computer for the night, I woke the old woman because I had something to tell you all. If the world is nice to me, I’ll remember it long enough to share it with you here.
Honestly it’s a couple of things.
I try to avoid references to spirituality and the possibility of afterlife, because people believe different things and I really don’t want to alienate anyone. Tonight I’ve decided that I need to reference these things and I hope I don’t lose anyone.
Tuesday was my kids’ 20th birthday. It was a cruel, cruel thing, honestly beyond description, that their 16th birthday was “celebrated” in Adam’s hospice room, and half-hearted activities took place at home. Our friend Janet took everyone to the mall and Build-a-Bear, but that wasn’t a boy thing so Will was blowing in the wind.
That whole thing just stunk. I don’t know how I would recover from a significant birthday happening while my father was dying. The kids don’t seem so enthusiastic about celebrating the day. That could be just because they’re getting older and it’s not that important, or it could be because they don’t want those memories. It’s anyone’s guess and maybe they don’t even know.
While they were opening gifts Tuesday evening, a couple of small picture frames on the piano fell over without having been disturbed. Behind them was a picture of Adam made on his last Christmas day. It was startling to say the least. Mostly I felt bad for not having recognized him while we were having their celebration. The reassurance that he is still around with us, all the time, was both startling and reassuring. I questioned my interpretation of these falling frames, but honestly there was no other explanation.
Can’t remember whom I quoted under a picture of Adam recently, but he hypothesized that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Agreed.
As this coming week develops, I don’t know how I’ll feel. Maybe I’ll be immersed in activity in order to blunt my feelings. Maybe I’ll have myself perfectly together on Thursday, a day I’ve taken off from work just in case I fall apart. There’s no way of knowing. Endruing our wedding anniversary on July 8 took all the strength I had. That was a surprise. So who knows what’s upcoming.
He’s here and I feel his presence and his love, which sustains me during really awful times. That may sound crazy, but I believe it and I’ve not been looking for it. I’m really wondering about ” ’til death do us part.”
Sorry my writing isn’t up to par tonight. It’s late and I’m tired but I wanted to get some thoughts down before tomorrow drowned them out.

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Ritual Grieving

Don’t know about you, but I hear and read a lot about creating rituals to recognize important days. I’ve never embraced this idea because my concept of a ritual felt forced and artificial.
As I’ve said, today would have been my 27th wedding anniversary. Despite having a big red flag on my calendar, supported by email and text reminders, it still kind of snuck up on me. Guess I was wishing it away.
As I opened my jewelry box this morning, there they were–my wedding rings, sitting stoically beside Adam’s wedding band and his high school class ring. I don’t wear them for many reasons which are irrelevant today. Suffice it to say that my gaze fell on them and I knew that wearing them once again, if just for today, would be my ritual.
I put them on and felt a return to myself. Emotional support, recognition of the fact that I was married to a wonderful man who gave me these lovely rings, thoughts of him as I glanced at them during the day.
Wearing those rings will be my ritual. I don’t have to bury stones or burn scraps of paper bearing words of despair and regret. I don’t have to hike the paths Adam once loved or make his favorite meal. Wearing the rings Adam gave me is the way I will feel comfortable remembering him.
I’ve decided to wear them the entire month of July, a month chock full of good and bad times, times of growth and times of loss, joy and devastation.
I wanted to share this decision with you in case you, too, are struggling to find a meaningful way to mark particular anniversaries. What I discovered today is that a ritual doesn’t have to be lengthy, public, time-consuming, something that makes you feel awkward or that you simply don’t want to do. For me, simply wearing my husband’s rings again reminds me of his presence, his life, his love, and the many other gifts he gave to me, large and small, material and spiritual, during our all-too-brief time together.
Happy 27th, my love.

Blah blah blah blah blah

You’re going to hear a lot of boring stuff from me this month because it is the month when I die inside.

I have a new job and I am grateful beyond belief because it’s exactly what I wanted, if I had to have a job.

But I have to learn lots of things about the business and it’s really hard to maintain one’s concentration when the mind wishes to be focusing on grief. What day is this? What happened on this particular awful day in 2012? What can we do on the 28th to mark this day because it needs to be honored but how? How do you honor something you wish had never happened and pray you never have to remember?

And the whole month you are living it.

I spent the whole July 4th weekend cleaning out my closet via the Konmarie method–you know, the woman who wrote about the joy of tidying up. Well that’s rich, since Adam’s clothes still hang in the guest-room closet.

It’s just a cameo, really, of the month to come, the cascade of nightmares commemorated every single day.

I’ve already enjoyed the recurring nightmare of Adam being alive but sick to death. Why can’t I shake this? I wake and thank God it was just a dream, only to fall back to sleep and have it start up again.

This won’t stop until mid-August, when the anniversaries are past. I’m trying to do a new job. This is why it’s taken me so long to attempt a new job! And now I’m being ambushed by these nightmares and memories that have no welcome and no place. I just pray I survive.

And that my children survive because they don’t talk.

And I thank God for my in-laws who I love to death.

Thanks for listening.

Future Shock

I just read the following essay which asks why it’s so hard to live in the present moment. I have to say that since the moment Adam was diagosed I’ve done little but live in the present. Mostly this has been good for me, since, as the article suggests, we miss a lot of good stuff if we are focused not on our present, but ruminating about the future over which we have no control, or grousing about the past, which is, well, past.

To be sure many of you, like me, have a hard time dismissing the past. The downside, I’ve found, to being unable to feature the future is that I find it very difficult to make plans. A few months after Adam died a friend was buying tickets to a February show and asked if I’d like to come along. “February” was unfathomable to me. What would be happening in February? Any sort of debacle could have cropped up by then. I took a leap of faith, bought my ticket, and we had a good time with no disaster to keep us from attending.

I still find it difficult to think about the future. Maybe that’s one reason it took me so long to get a job. A job? What for? For the future? Like I’m going to have a future. Honestly, I have really felt this way.

I wonder if it’s just me. Have you felt like this? That the future stopped when your loved one was diagnosed or died? If you’re interested in reading the article that sparked my thinking, here’s the link. Really like this website. Enjoy.

http://www.thebookoflife.org/the-difficulty-of-being-in-th…/

Very many of us suffer from a peculiar-sounding problem: an inability to properly inhabit the stretch of time we call ‘the present’. Maybe we’re on a beautiful beach on a sunny day, the sky is azure and the palm trees slender and implausibly…
THEBOOKOFLIFE.ORG

July Stinks

I’m afraid you’ll hear a lot of wound-licking and complaining from me in the coming month. The monster of sadness, lack of control, self-destructive behavior, survivor’s guilt, it’s all there, waiting for me in the cover of the hickory saplings just off of my deck. Ready to pounce.

As usual I’ve been dreading July. In my last post I said that, for me, the badness begins on June 30, the anniversary of the death of our friend Tom. But in the past days I’ve realized that it actually begins on June 27, the birthday of a dear friend who lost her life just about 18 months ago? No? Is it longer? Does keeping track really matter? Seems she was here yesterday. I was at her house, celebrating her birthday and ignoring my phone when Caroline drove Adam there to tell me that Tom had died. I can’t describe what ensued once I got home. It was primal and it was awful. And it was the beginning of a longstanding grief, as I well knew.

Tom’s funeral was a few days later, in a town about 90 minutes away. Adam collapsed three times in a room full of neurosurgeons. He hadn’t collapsed like that before. I knew it was the beginning of the end. Without Tom there, he was giving up.

I’m pretty sure that he and Tom had discussed the odds of their survival. Honestly, no bookie would have taken those odds. And once Tom was gone, it was only a short, 10-day trip for Adam to go to the hospital, never to come home.

I just don’t know what to do with myself. I don’t know what my kids are thinking and still hesitate to pin them down, wanting them to have their own emotions without my picking all around in them for my own comfort. I keep hoping that if they have something to say, they’ll say it. But I also know they don’t want to upset me anymore than I’m already upset. Kids: that’s not possible.

Is cryogenics up and running yet? Could I just freeze myself for the month of July? Would that even help? Because then there’s August, which brings Adam’s birthday on the 6th and the anniversary of his funeral on the 7th, and the remembrance of our lovely church secretary, Pamela, who died just days before Adam. In an effort not to be too self-centered, I’d also like to remember my sister’s in-laws who died on either side of Adam. Really? Who is supposed to be able to survive all this without adopting or reverting to bad behaviors?

Look out world. I’m just trying to survive.

June and July Suck

This month upcoming is going to be really hard. Despite my desire to crawl in a hole and hide, I must go to work and be a facsimile of a human being. Today’s traffic on the way to work almost brought me to tears and it wasn’t about traffic. It was about loss and why I have to navigate through my new stuff without the support of the person I love which really means the support of no one.

After giving up my dream of working in magazine publishing, which I gave up because moving to NYC in the 80s would have stolen my soul and killed my body, I decided that I’d like to be a mom and wife. A really unpopular decision back then, because finally women were able to chart their own paths and I’d chosen the out-moded one.

Adam was my knight in shining armor. He had a great job which would allow me to freelance (no armor pun intended) and to be ready when we had a family. Caring for my family was my raison d’être. I loved it.

I can’t even speak now about the moment I realized and bleated to my children about it just being the three of us from now on. It’s one of the worst memories of my life and I can’t even believe that I remember it. Why didn’t my brain blot it out?

Anyway it happened and here we are.

I count my blessings that I have been hired by a firm whom I did business with years ago and continued to hold in high esteem. My learning curve has been large but those around me have been so supportive (I am not sucking up to you; it’s true).

But I’m a new-hire and worry that I’ll lose all focus during the upcoming badness. I mark the end of my world by June 30, the death of our dear friend Tom Ellis, and the death and funeral of my beloved Adam. Yes, I can keep it together mostly. Worrying about the interstices.

Fathers’ Day

Here we are on the cusp of that forced holiday. Although its sentiment is lovely and makes us eager to celebrate if that person is in our life, the absence of a father makes it hard to face Sunday. I’m thankful, this year, for my father-in-law. He is the only father we have left. I’ve said before on this page that I can’t decide whether to mark the occasion or let it slide since we don’t have a living person to celebrate. I’d prefer just to remember Adam and my dad and let it be.

Strangely enough, my daughter was moved, last night, to make her first-ever blackberry pie. That was her dad’s favorite. Did she think about that while making the pie? Did he somehow inspire her to do so? I thought the timing was ironic but it’s hard to say more.

At my house, a daylily that I bought from my hometown farmer’s market, while shopping there with Dad over 15 years ago, has bloomed beautifully this year. I kept planting it in inappropriate locations, but now, finally, it is thriving.

It’s probably true that none of this has to do with anything. The brain, constantly searching for connections, has made these happen. But it gives me comfort to imagine that Adam sent a little charge to Caro, inspiring her to make that pie, and that my dad caused that beautiful lily to open just in time for Fathers’ Day.IMG_1615