I have been walking around with what feels like a knot in my solar plexus, a twisting up of nerves, anxious to the point of taking Xanax so I can sleep. Since anxiety is symptom of menopause, I have been trying to see what works in helping me cope. My doctor told me, "You have a lot going on" when he wrote the prescription, but really, who doesn't?
This past weekend was my mother's birthday. She would have been 85. Since she was a children's librarian at our neighborhood elementary school, and since she loved the quirky humor of Shel Silverstein (one of the books which our beloved hospice volunteers read over and over and over again to her), I bought the anniversary edition of one of his collections to donate to the library in her honor. Her youngest sister is now in hospice care as well, and this week I am going to see her and say goodbye.
Nita had a friend come over for her birthday. We took the girls to the Lake Erie Nature Center and then out to eat. Rocky had a friend come over yesterday, and while we were out with them, I noticed that a local horticultural center had removed its fence for the widening of the highway. This place always has a lovely display of ornamental cabbages long into the fall, and since they are on my side of the car, I enjoy them when we are at the stop light near the church.
It has been sunny for five days now. Last night I had a dream in which Harry the dog was old, and he went to sleep in the sunshine out by the end of the driveway, lying on his side, totally relaxed and warm, and he gently and peacefully died there in his sleep, just becoming more and more relaxed until he was gone. In the dream I was in the living room, and when I looked out the window, I saw that my father, who loved flowers, had planted rows of ornamental grasses and cabbages at the end of the driveway there, and then had erected this huge and really ornate and very implausible bird house condominium contraption as well. In the dream, EG said to me, "He knew about Harry, and didn't want you to be sad every time you looked out there."
I woke up crying. No, he wouldn't want me to be sad. But I am. So much loss, so much sadness, and none of it peaceful and gentle, but painful and terror-producing for those who lived it personally, and frightening and frustrating for those of us who were on the journey with them. Yes, I am sad, but I have been dancing around the grief, ignoring it or pushing it back until it seeped out and bubbled up around the edges as anxiety, finally nesting in a big knot inside me, just waiting to be unleashed.
Today I am still crying off and on, but the knot inside me is gone for now. My father's favorite hymn, because it had been my grandmother's favorite, was In the Garden, and this year I will create a garden. It will be one which I can see and know that he wouldn't want me to be sad anymore. He is at peace, and I need to remember that and be there as well.