Monday, March 22, 2010

End of the Day Reflection

Today's post is being written through a different process than usual. My way of posting is always my words first, images that reflect my words second. Today my thoughts and emotions were a bit all over the map. This is probably because I tend to feel things more strongly in the days that follow an emotional event. This past weekend was a good weekend, but of course I was trying to not get lost in my feelings, as that would have been difficult for Michael's family. Today was one of those days when everything seemed to hit a nerve.

I will tell you first off, that my afternoon ended with a run, and at times forced walk, along Ocean Beach. These photos were taken with my ever present and handy Blackberry.

Last night was one of those nights when try as I might, I couldn't sleep restfully. All through the night I felt restless, and kept waking up. At one point I was aware that I was dreaming something about Michael, but when I awoke I could not remember if he was actually in the dream. I found this disappointing, and forced myself to fall back asleep.

This morning, after getting my boys off to school, I went back to sleep, as I didn't have to work today. After getting back up I decided to take my daughter out to run a couple of errands and to see a movie. At my parents suggestion we went to see A Family Wedding. This was a perfect father/daughter film, as it shows, in a very humorous way, how we navigate our differences and expectations within our families. There was a point in the film where a father is telling his son that if his fiance laughs at his jokes, then she must truly love him. He is saying this because his ex-wife never laughed at his jokes. My daughter turned to me and smiled, as the kids loved to tease Michael that his jokes were not funny. They always asked why I thought they were funny, because I aways laughed.

At the end of the film there is of course a wedding. I couldn't help but feel my heart sink when I was viewing this. Everyone was so happy, dancing and celebrating this special occasion. My thoughts were that now they will now spend the next year as newlyweds. The second part of my year as a newlywed was being by my husband's side as he was dying. My first year anniversary was spent without him, as he died a month before this special occasion. That was the day I began writing this blog.

This afternoon as I was running along the beach with my youngest son, I noticed the beautiful scattering of stones along the shore. My son was scouting out for the perfect skimming stone, and then he would glide it across the water. I couldn't help but think about the randomness of this all. The stones looked beautiful, gleaming in the sun, almost as if there was a plan in place. Yet I know that the nature of things tells me that it is all random.

Dare I go there again? You know what I mean. They "why me's," "why him," the "why us." Why couldn't I have a long lasting love? Why couldn't I have the long lasting marriage? Why didn't we get the chance to grow old together? I don't like to admit it, but I am still so bitter and angry. I hate being that person that bad things happen to. Am I a victim? Did God take a look over at me and decide, well, Dan can take it? Did he sum me up, and say he has always pulled through, so why not this? Hey, if this has to happen to someone, why not him? I feel like that person who is hit by lightening more than once. What are the chances? Do I have to be the suffering soul for all of humankind? I can't help but think that Michael's mother is likely feeling the same way. Even though we know that life and death happens everyday, and that it is all so random, to me, it feels personal.

Looking at this photo of the various footprints along the beach made me think of those who have been here before me. By "those," I mean all of you widows and widowers who are steps ahead of me in the grueling grief marathon. I'm sorry, but I just can't seem to put a positive spin on this today. I feel like every time I think I am landing back on my feet, I just get knocked down all over again. Excuse me for using the ocean metaphor, but the waves of grief just keep coming at me, and the undertow is stronger than I am. As I write this I am thinking, "now that's not true." I can hear the collective voices in my head telling me how strong I am, and that I can get through this. What makes me angry is that my voice is right there among them. Maybe I want to be pulled under. It takes so much strength to survive, and I would love to just let go, and be taken away.

Ah, the birds. I saw these birds as I was walking back up the beach to return to my car. For a moment I got caught up in their beauty, and that is the moment that I took this picture. In that moment I knew why birds are often used to symbolize the spirit, and the how and why we set them free. Sitting here now at 11:14 pm, I could give a fuck about the beautiful symbolism. What you have not been reading here is how emotionally difficult it was to juggle the complicated emotional needs of the kids today. Well, more like the boys. Both were having an off day, and it took such great strength and patience on my part to orchestrate an evening where they were not coming completely unglued and attacking each other. On our way home from the beach we ran by Subway to pick up some sandwiches for dinner. I dropped the kids off at home, then ran to Walgreens for a prescription my youngest son desperately needed. The minute the kids were out of the car my tears started. I felt so alone and tired.

Again, why me? Why was I alone once again? Why is it that everyone one around me, from friends here in San Francisco to my family in So. California, are all happily in bed right now with their spouses? Why do they get such happiness? There is such a strong desire in me to just quit my life. Not kill myself, but somehow just say that's it, I quit! Okay, should I have deleted that last sentence? It's how I really feel. It's the kind of thoughts that we are supposed to filter. Somehow I'm supposed to feel grateful for the time I had with Michael. Well, if you could point out the person I'm supposed to thank, then I can assume that's the person responsible for all of this. If I was to meet that person right now it wouldn't be pretty.

I hate this. I'm going to stop writing now. I'm going to take my medicine, turn out the lights, walk down to my bedroom, light a tea candle, place it on the middle book shelf right next to the urn that holds the ashes of my dead husband. There is nothing like quality time at the end of a challenging day.


  1. i hope you never censor yourself. we have all had the same thoughts at one time or another. we understand. i do as quitting life has occurred to me. "i can't go on" has been said to the empty air in my apartment. type it and it will be out of your system. shared sorrow halves it, in a way. it's why we write, or why i do. now someone else knows what i am feeling. now someone else know my agony. and when it's too much for you, give it to one of us whose cyclitic sorrow is at a lessor point than yours. we will carry it for a spell and then hand it back when you are stronger.

    i think that's why no one should be alone when they grieve. especially after a length of time has passed and everyone has gone back to their lives. that's when you really need someone to listen to you.

    and i like the reference to "quality time" at night. there's something about laying in bed in the dark and whispering to the one you love...whether they are physically there or not.

    i wish you peace.

  2. Dan, I love the pictures you took. I so miss the ocean, the shore and all it holds. Your words, as usual, are written beautifully. I never thought of having "quality time" with someone who has gone on, but I can see, again through your words, the meaning.

  3. I agree with everything you have said here.
    "It takes so much strength to survive, and I would love to just let go, and be taken away."
    God, how true that is.

  4. I can totally relate and appreciate all that you've expressed. And I love your pictures.

    I sensed sarcasm in your last sentence. Am I losing it?

    Hope you got some sleep.

  5. Yes - PLEASE do not censor. Seems no one else gets it but us, so let it rip. I, personally, hate it when someone says I'm "strong enough - you'll get through this." So? Get through this to do WHAT exactly? Have some other life where he is not alive, here with me, skipping work today to go see a movie? I'm so glad I'm strong enough to get through this and witness all the beautiful symbolism of springtime and the cycle of life, being reborn and all that.

    (though now I do have to add - babe, wherever you are, please don't stop sending me messages of beautiful symbols. They aren't a fair trade, but please keep them coming.)

  6. I agree with what everyone has said above - please don't censor yourself. As a friend posted on my blog recently, this is "the real stuff" and it is.

    Regarding the "bitter and angry" feelings - I can probably vouch for all of us, collectively, in saying that this goes with the territory. However, maybe I can speak with a little experience that the anger slowly fades. As recently as last November (14 months after Don's death), I was often wracked with fury over the awful illness and then death he had endured, and then me having to keep going alone with pretty much no help -- including getting the farm ready to sell last summer (a Herculean task if ever there was one). It seems to be one damned thing after another - vehicles falling apart on the highway, sick dogs, and a bunch of other stuff. Yes, I hear those words inside of me too. Why me? Why all of us?

    But at about 14 or 15 months, the anger began to subside. I'm not quite sure what it has been replaced with -- perhaps a sort of subdued interest in doing something different besides feeling sad, angry and alone. If you've been following my blog recently, you'll know that I bought a real old beater of a house in Nova Scotia - a super duper fixer-upper that my brother tells me I should leave as it is and offer to rent it out as a movie set for horror flicks. One of my Bisbee friends is teasing me saying that I'm "solving my problems by creating even bigger problems". Perhaps she's right, but I can't just stop living and not do what I feel like doing, even if it seems totally nuts to everyone else. It's me that has to live inside my life, and dammit, this is what I want to do.

    But the sadness and twinges of "Why me" will probably persist forever. When I hear people crabbing about their spouses, I feel like saying, "Oh, shuddup!" The other night, after having dinner with three married friends, we walked past the front of the restaurant and one of them nodded her head towards a sad looking man who had entered the restaurant alone and was sitting next to the window. She said, "It makes me feel so sad when I see someone eating alone like that." Before I could stifle myself, some internal demon sardonically barked, "Hey! Wait a minute! I eat alone all of the time!" I guess maybe I'm coping well enough lately that friends are becoming used to me being "single" and don't think before they say things that would have caused me pain a year ago. In that respect, maybe I've come a long way. There's still a long way to go, but at 19 months, yes, things have changed over the past year. Maybe you will find something helpful in that knowledge. Take care - hopefully there will be better days ahead for all of us.

  7. I'm taking a break from my work, during my late lunch, to read all your comments. Thanks so much for the support, and for encouraging me to be so honest. Sometimes it is so difficult to hit Publish when my words may not play out very well for what people think of me. Oh wel..

    Deb, you are right about the sarcasm. I do talk to Michael at night, and try to spend time focused in his direction, but I was being my usual sarcastic self.

    I love Bev's house of horrors. I can see why friends might worry that you are taking on more problems than you need, but we have to try to participate in life the best way we know how.

    People make comments in front of me all the time about death or being married. Sometimes they catch themselves, sometimes they don't. Either way, it hurts.

  8. Everyone is right. Post it here and get it out of your system. There will always be critics, but you have an ever-growing network of support through this site who are going to continue to pull for you regardless of what you post.

    Writing has always been my outlet. What I cannot articulate verbally, I can put into writing rather easily. But for the first two years after my wife died I could not write. She was gone and I couldn't turn to the one outlet I had to really sort out my feelings. Because of that, once I began blogging the posts became colored by the passage of time. The grief is still ever-present, but the lens through which I view it has changed. As hard as it must be sometimes, being able to write at this point in your journey will be more of a blessing than a curse in the long run.

    So hang in there on the rough days, and let us lift you up when they occur.