Friday, September 30, 2011

A Glimmer of Hope

Sometimes, sometimes, there is a glimmer of hope in even the worst situations.

My neighbor, she who made our lives miserable when we were trying to cope after EG's death, sent a letter to the court asking that Rocky not be prosecuted. That would have been a nice gesture, if only she had let it stop at that. Unfortunately, she editorialized for about 250 words in the middle of the letter about how they still didn't know Rocky's intent, how they were still so traumatized about what happened that the children wouldn't sleep in their rooms, and how Rocky still hadn't apologized.

(There's a story there, as the neighbor called me up, told me I was to bring Rocky over to their house so he could sit down with them and explain what had happened and then apologize. She and her family would offer him their forgiveness, and then "there are some things he needs to be told." Right after that, when I reminded her that Rocky had lost four of the six adults in his life over the last five years, she informed me that "this type of loss is normal in adolescents." Let's just say I was unpleasant, but one of my employees, who had been scheduled for an evaluation that day but had been rescheduled, commented that she was delighted that her appointment had been changed.)

Anyway, we have court on Monday, so I drove to the psych hospital and asked for copies of Rocky's admission and discharge documents. There, on page 3 of the discharge summary, the doctor commented that my neighbor was exhibiting "irrational behavior," and it was "causing him to be concerned for his safety." Plus, (and this is where I was trying to think of something just this side of self-sacrifice to show how grateful I was), the doctor added that the neighbor had called the facility to speak with the doctor about her concerns, which he added was "certainly inappropriate."

And the best part is that this document has future treatment recommendations, so it will most likely be admitted into evidence. Including page 3.

This whole time, I have tried to take the high road and be gracious and try to understand how this woman's own issues were affecting her behavior. However, I was frustrated at how she had made herself the victim and center of all the controversy, portraying herself as a sympathetic character to the neighbors, the court, and all who would entertain her drama. Today, though, I have documentation from a professional as to how erratic this woman can be, including his own experience with her. Hallelujah. Maybe what goes around eventually will come around.

And when I told Rocky, he smiled for the first time in weeks.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Suspenders and a Belt

My uncle used to wear suspenders and an belt; my sister commented that he was a "safety man."

Since EG had lost weight, his jeans had a tendency to slip down too far. The belt was going with them, so he moved on to suspenders. However, he still wore a belt with shorts. The belt he wore most commonly was made of thick, soft leather, and it had a simple buckle which made its own distinctive sound when he put it on or took it off. I heard that sound at least twice a day.

I always teased him about wearing suspenders and Chuck Taylor All-Stars, but at least he didn't wear suspenders and a belt.

The other night, I was sorting through the hamper, and I found the shorts he had worn before he went out to mow, with the belt still attached. The belt made that familiar sound, and it was like a stab to the chest. I put the belt and shorts back into the hamper.

For the next couple of weeks, I would go through the dirty clothes and hear the sound of the belt, not wanting to make a commitment about one more thing of his, so leaving the belt there in the hamper still attached to the shorts. Finally, I took the belt out of the loops and washed the shorts.

I don't want to get rid of the belt, as the sound is such a familiar one, one which I heard morning and evening, but I can't bear to keep it around, either. The same with the suspenders. They were such a part of him, yet it hurts too much to know they are still around.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Were you thinking?

Today we got a letter from a couple who attend our church. The couple wanted the children to know some things about Dads and God. They told the children "God was so pleased with what EG had accomplished in his life and with his family that dad could serve Him better and serve you better by being with Him in heaven, and more over (sic) deserved to be with Him."

Really? So their point is God felt EG deserved being in Heaven so much that He was going to take EG in a violent manner while the kids were there? A benevolent God couldn't find a kinder, gentler way to take someone to their eternal reward?

I have issues with the fact that this is a couple, part of an intact family, who is delivering platitudes to a no longer intact family. I have issues with the husband deciding he could speak for EG (who is probably banging around in that plastic box on my closet shelf), based on how much they had in common because they were both dads. And I have issues with them telling the children that their dad would be their guardian angel, then telling the children that their son's grandfather was his guardian angel, but they suspected that Grandpa was distracted at times playing cards or bowling up there because periodically their son will run into things. Oh, that's comforting--Dad will watch over you unless he has something fun to do.

I read the letter to Nita, in all her eleven-going-on-thirty wisdom. She leveled her gaze at me. "Were they thinking when they wrote this," she asked. Um.

So, I wrote a long, angry letter to this couple. I cried out of anger. I went to the church and talked to the priest, who said, "You can throw it away--that's the joy of mail."

I realized then that I didn't want to let it go. These people needed to pay for their sanctimonious, we-have-all-the-answers attitude. They needed to be told that they weren't so wonderful.

But I needed to take the high road. So I sent a short letter stating, "While I am sure that you had the best intentions when you sent your letter, but I will not be sharing it with the children. Please continue to pray for them if you feel the need, but do not try to contact them again."

Let them wonder.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Black-eyed Susans

My sister called me yesterday and told me she had some plants for me, and asked if she should bring them over. I told her yes and invited her to stay for soup and muffins for supper.

We have a near back yard here, which is about sixty or seventy feet, then a middle back, and then a bit of a crest and the "far back" slopes gently downhill. Last spring, long before anything had started blooming, I decided I wanted to put forsythia in the far back. The tree outside the kitchen sink window usually covers much of the view, but in early spring when there are no leaves, I look out at a dull, brown vista, so I decided some early blooming yellow would make me feel hopeful.

EG wanted his ashes scattered here at home, so we decided to put them in the "far back." I then made up my mind that we would supplement the forsythia with some daffodils, which my sister suggested letting naturalize. The yellow flower project expanded to include some day lilies and some black-eyed Susans. My sister was thinning hers yesterday; thus, the arrival of our first plants.

I thought putting the flowers under one of the trees out there would be nice. Eventually they could choke out the buckthorn which grows under there by default, and I would have less to trim under the trees. We dug the wet earth, and then I tenderly tucked the plants into the soil.

Then we discussed other plans for the planting, and I mentioned that the one apple tree back there was slowly dying, mostly due to the deer. I said it was going to have to go in the future. My sister started to rock the tree, and next thing we knew, we were ripping it out of the ground, leaving one large root intact. Rocky, intrigued by all that "girl power," apparently, ran back to us, and we sent him for a series of tools. Pretty soon, he was providing muscle power, and the tree was out. Rocky and my sister sawed parts of the tree off to provide manageable portions, and we dragged them off into the wood stack EG had started in the weeds.

Then, since we were on a roll, my sister took a shovel and smacked the tenderly placed black-eyed Susans into the ground. "Now their roots will take," she explained. "They're pretty hardy."

This morning, I reflected on two things. First, there is a certain irony in these plants being called "black-eyed Susans." And second, I guess we're pretty hardy, too.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I have been to a couple widow/widower websites in the past few weeks. First, let me point out that I have issues with the term "widow," as it brings to mind some wizened, old, dried up crone or someone like Granny on The Beverly Hillbillies. Or, perhaps, someone like Grandma Mazur in the Stephanie Plum novels.

Now that I think about it, it is rather depressing to be closer to Grandma Mazur than the young bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum.

Anyway, when I go to these boards, I feel deeply sad. Not for me, but for some of the people who post on there. I read posts which say, "It has been one year, three months, six days, five hours, twenty-two minutes and four seconds since he left me." Imagine wanting to know that, let alone having the time to figure out where to get that information. I also read posts by people who report that it has been nearly a year, and they just want to curl up in a ball and stay in bed all day.

My sister pointed out to me that we were fortunate that we were at the age where our bladders didn't allow us to sleep in too late each day, and once we were vertical, the dogs would ask to have their bladders attended to, and by then, we were moving anyway, so why not just get on with it and get the kids up and off to school and go to work.

I have more non-crying days than crying days lately. I have turned that corner. I miss him, his touch, the companionship, his conversation, his support. I am sad sometimes at what we will miss. However, the pain is not so searing as it was, even a week ago, and I know I can go on. In fact, the one thing I can do is keep on going, and I know now I can handle whatever happens. I may not want to handle it, but I can.

So I will.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Today I finished the thank you notes from the funeral and calling hours. Under the stack of envelopes and little notes was a card which provided etiquette guidelines for writing these notes. Why the card was on the bottom is beyond me, as I found it AFTER I was finished with the notes.

One of the first points on the card was that the thank you notes should be written and sent within two weeks of the funeral. Seriously? Find nice paper with matching envelopes, buy stamps, locate addresses (or at least be cognizant of the fact that the addresses should be in the guest book), compose complete, coherent sentences, and remember to mail the things, within two weeks of the funeral?

Two weeks after the funeral, I was still doing things like walking out of Walgreens to find that I had parked the van eight feet from the curb, with the back end hanging out in traffic. Or I start supper and heat the green beans and make the mashed potatoes, only to discover that I had forgotten to cook the chicken.

So, the thank you notes are done, but they aren't timely. However, I wrote clear messages, addressed the envelopes, remembered the stamps, and actually took the notes to the post office, so I would think that should count for something.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Right now I hate everybody. I'm not weepy or sad, nor do I have PMS.

I just hate everyone.

What kind of God would trust me so much with these three hormone-riddled teens, two of whom are special needs, let alone turn them loose on me when they are grieving at the same time I am.

Once I bought a plaque with a saying by Mother Theresa: "I know God won't give me more than I can handle. I just wish he didn't trust me so much."

If Mother Theresa were still alive, I would most likely hop a plan to Calcutta, risk leprosy, be detained because I had no luggage and an immediate return ticket, take transportation to Mother Theresa's convent, and smack the living snot out of her. Hard. Then I would come home and burn the plaque.

So don't feel bad if I am angry with you--I'm angry with Mother Theresa and God, too.

You're in good company.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The kindness of strangers

What has amazed and touched me through this grief journey was the kindness of strangers. One woman who goes to my sister's church made us a meal, including lunchbox treats for the kids. Nita's teachers, Kiki's friends from church group, the kids' music teachers, former girl scout friends, and some of my former employees showed up at the calling hours. And we received sympathy cards and notes from our vet, the bank, the orthodontist, the pharmacy at the corner, and the "girls" (as they called themselves) who cut our hair. My friend Kevin sent a Honeybaked Ham. People brought meals, including the wife of our handyman, neighbors, Kiki's confirmation sponsor, and one dear friend of mine who made a breakfast casserole.

However, one woman apparently read the obituaries and then sent a form letter stating that her church's Bible study could provide me with the answers I've been seeking. (I didn't know that churches answered "What the Hell?" I was offended, as the obituary clearly stated that EG was a man of strong faith and that there was going to be a funeral Mass. However, this woman apparently believed that the Jehovah's Witnesses had the corner on healing.

After a while, once the shock of the whole situation had mostly subsided, I wrote back to this misguided woman, telling her that I understood that she most likely saw this as a mission, but she didn't know where people were in their grief, and she might cause more pain with her letter-writing campaign. I ended the letter by telling her that I was going to have a Mass said for her soul. I figure that she would most likely be somewhat taken aback at that, and maybe it would help her related to how others might feel.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Mall

Saturday, Nita had a party at a mall, with every guest getting a gift card so she could shop, followed by cookies and then a movie at the mall theater.

I drove her there, and I waited with her for the other guests to arrive. I remembered EG and I going to the mall one night on a "date," and both of us wondering what all those other couples were doing there, walking around. Probably the same thing we were: just getting out of the house.

Unfortunately, those other couples were again walking around the mall, holding hands, looking happy, and chatting with one another. Yet another gut punch.

Then on Sunday, we went to church early because the two younger kids were serving. For some reason, every kid participating in CYO was in attendance, along with the cheerleaders, coaches, and parents. I sat by myself, and I was okay until the man in front of me put his arm around his wife's shoulders, a simple gesture EG used to make every church service. I started to cry. I asked for so little, yet I was blessed with so much, and for whatever reason, it was taken away. And I had no chance to prepare.

Someone said, "It is all part of God's plan." I don't agree with that. What God would play such a cruel prank on my sister and me after the onslaught of our parents' Alzheimer's disease taking first one and then the other?

It happened. I may never know why. And again I am challenged to rise up and meet my remaining days with grace. So I will.

And, in case this is some part of a great karmic plan, so there.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Forty days and forty nights

It has been six weeks since EG died, and I spent forty days and forty nights in the wilderness of grief, with pain so raw that I struggled to get through the days, let alone function with any semblance of "normal." I felt like that scene in Alien--shock and grief were a monster which burst from my vital organs and took over my entire life.

The photographer at graduation last weekend took a shot of me standing against a wall, waiting for the processional, having a quiet moment after getting my students prepared to process in to the ceremony. My features looked like they were all huddled together in the middle of my face, trying to stay safe. I thought I looked pretty good, but the effects of the stress are there.

After the family drama Friday night, with all its attendant backlash here, I was surprised that I felt different on Saturday. The rawness was gone. I was still sad, especially when I went to the mall to drop Nita off for a birthday party and saw couples holding hands and spending time together or when I started up the VW and drove it to keep it running, but it was like a turned a corner in my grieving. My perspective had shifted somehow.

However, I doubt that alien grief has gotten very far. There's the potential for a sequel, I am sure. But for now, I will enjoy the relative peace.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The upstairs bathroom

We have a half bathroom upstairs in this house; since the girls' rooms are up there, they used that bathroom, and EG and Rocky and I used the one downstairs.

However, everyone has moved into the downstairs bathroom now. It wasn't bad enough that I had to share with two males--now I have the girls and all their accessories and lotions and hair stuff and accoutrements of femaleness in my bathroom, and meanwhile the cats are enjoying their own personal salle de bains up there. And all I do is clean up after everyone, constantly tidying and wiping and scrubbing and picking up glasses with soaking retainers.

I have always been someone who tried to be nice, thinking that everyone had some pain or issue in their life which caused them to hurt and perhaps explained their behavior. Even with my neighbor, she who is self-centered, judgmental, and just plain obnoxious, I have tried to be fair and pleasant. However, when neighbor told me that "this type of loss is pretty normal for adolescents," something in me snapped, and I told her off so thoroughly and so directly that an employee who was sitting in my office waiting for a review asked if we could reschedule for another time.

Last night, I got an email from a family member who told me that she was hurt that Kiki had asked another family member to not text or call. This person had never been in our lives, through his own choice, and then had been here for the funeral and was so difficult, needy, self-centered, dramatic, and just plain weird and was burning up Kiki's prized cell phone use to meet his own needs; so, she asked for some space. I responded nicely, omitting the parts about Family Member making a scene at the funeral, running out not once, but twice, draping over the box with the ashes and sobbing, and never shutting up, not for two seconds, using Dude or Man every other word, and just generally sucking all the air and energy out of the room. I didn't mention how he made himself the center of attention at the calling hours, to the point where other family members were monitoring him to make sure he stayed appropriate and wondering if he was on something. I also did not mention that I sat in a restaurant with this person, who talked manically about inappropriate things in front of the kids, and popped Xanax just to get through the meal, thinking that it was sad that a bad situation was being made worse by someone focusing on their own needs and not on the kids who had lost not only their dad, but a sense of safety and innocence in one hour on a Saturday afternoon.

I simply said we were all fragile right now, and I was sorry if she could not respect that.

I realized I really didn't care if these people severed the relationship--in fact, it would make our lives so much more pleasant and serene if they did go away, or at least operate from a distance. Kind of like the upstairs bathroom situation--some space would be nice.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A little piece of me, a little piece of you

We donated EG's organs at the time of his death. It was what he wanted.

However, I didn't consider the outcome. We got a letter from Lifebanc, telling us how the harvested parts of him would be used. Kiki said, "I found that comforting." I had more of a mixed reaction--glad that someone else could benefit, but frustrated that we had to do this because of a loss.

Kiki said, "It's like there will be little bits of Daddy in other people."

Now that parts of him are still going to be walking around on this planet, I find that I look at everyone differently, as EG could be a part of anyone right now. I am more patient, let people pull out in front of me, even if I don't have to, hold doors even if it means a few more seconds of delay, speak kindly to someone who appears to be annoyed or overwhelmed.

It seems the least I can do.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Not in bed yet

It is 9:24, and I am still up, sitting in the kitchen and drinking a glass of water. This is highly remarkable. Not for the water, which I tend to drink quite often, but for the scheduling.

For the past five weeks, I have been in bed no later than 9:00, and I wake up at 3:00 a.m., fire up the computer, and watch Law and Order reruns on Netflix. EG and I used to call the program "Law and Snorer," as we invariably went to sleep before the end, waking up to the news and heading to bed, having no resolution to the show. I'm watching the episodes again because they can still lull me to sleep. Who would think that murder, sodomy, molestation, and the like would be so restful.

For several seasons, we would have a discussion whenever the show would come on the air with a rerun.

Person A: We've seen this.

Person B: But did we finish it?

Person A: Yes. This is the one where the killer ended up being __________ and so the police _______________.

Person B: But did we see the courtroom part?

Person A: I guess not.

Then, we would watch the show. Sometimes we would finish it, and sometimes we would fall asleep again.

So, I watch Law and Snorer reruns. However, this time, I can finish the program at a later date, so there is no doubt that I'm not missing the outcome.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Face of Grief

A quiet, well dressed widow in a serene sanctuary, sniffing delicately into a handkerchief. Um, not.

I somehow thought grief was a quiet, private, delicate suffering. When my dearest friend Bob died, I was prepared for it, so I quietly, most likely numbly, turned inward and processed his passing. Every spring for the next five years, I would be sad around the time of his birthday, but I could function. When my parents died, we were so ready for them to go, that their deaths were a relief--we had pre-grieved for each of them.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, prepared me for this time. Around here, grieving operates with a lot of barking, name-calling ("You tyrant!" "I am not a tyrant. MO-omm! She called me a tyrant! What is a tyrant, anyway?"), chores which need to be done, bills which need to be paid, homework that needs to be supervised, and the eternal, endless mounds of dog hair. Grief is not quiet and serene--in fact, it is like one of those violent juvenile offenders who just happened to move in to our house. We certainly would never have given permission for Grief to appear here, let alone stay. Yet here Grief is, and along with Grief come some of his friends, Anger, Depression, and Overwhelming Sadness. They steal our belongings, putting them places we never would have; they disrupt our normal flow of operation; they take up a lot of room and make big messes.

And I don't see them leaving any time soon.

How, exactly, do we move on from something like this? How do we incorporate our new reality of that loss? I know, I know, everyone says time will heal us. But I don't want this new reality.

EG and I always teased the kids about how, when we were little old people, we would take turns living with each of them, driving a tiny little car to church at speeds never reaching over 25 miles per hour, and then going to one of the "all you can eat" buffets for Sunday lunch. We'd hold hands and dote on one another with the tenderness sometimes seen in those gray-haired, frail couples.

We were, first and foremost, a married couple. Sometimes you see married people who are actually "married singles," who have their own lives and are married out of convenience or inertia. There are also the married couples who are Mom and Dad first, who don't know what to do when the kids move out. Getting to the "married couple" point took years of work and commitment on both our parts. And now that investment is gone, and I am a single parent of three kids, and in seven years Nita will move on to college, and I will be alone.

I wonder if Grief will still be living here with me.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Yoga for Grief Relief

I have always been interested in yoga, maybe because I am not, nor have I ever been an athlete, but I like and need to work my body. I carry my tension on my shoulders, in my neck, in my lower back and upper back, and my digestion will act up, too. However, every time I tried to meditate, I would go to sleep. In the past, I have tried periodic yoga tapes specified "for beginners," but inevitably, the teacher will get to a point where he or she will say something like, "Take your leg and put it up over your head . . ." and I will shut down. I figure if I had been meant to put my leg over my head, it would have been attached at my ears.

When I had Rocky at the therapist, I discovered a flyer for "Yoga for Grief Relief," offered through a local hospital. I figure that most people don't have a lot of grief until later in life, so maybe I was safe from the "leg over the head" part. Yesterday I called, and there were still openings, so I signed up.

It turns out there were plenty of openings--I was the only person to show up. The instructor was wonderful, keeping the class light and chatting quietly, so I wasn't intimidated by any overwhelming karmic seriousness. At one point, I started to cry, and she said, "Let out any sounds which your body wants to make." Since I had been resisting the the sounds my body wanted to make that were not a) socially appropriate, and b) not good for an enclosed, dark room, I switched to laughter.

Afterward, I was tired, but not exhausted. I slept well last night without the use of sleep aids for the first time in a long, long time. In fact, I may go back to bed after I put the kids on the bus.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A sign of hope

Last night, at the end of a long and exhausting day, I slogged out to the chicken coop to put the birds to bed. There, on the floor as I opened the door to go into the house, laying there like a gift, was our first egg. Although it was small and misshapen somewhat, it was like a sign of hope. Something which we knew was coming, which we anticipated, was quietly left for us to discover at the end of a dark day.

Now we need to get the hens to use the nest boxes.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wednesday's Child Is Full of Woe

Today was dreary, rainy, and cold. I had the pleasure of training my replacement for part of my job (the part that was originally someone else's, but which I took over for a few months)--I think she will do well, and she is an extraordinarily kind and pleasant woman.

Unfortunately, she talked about her husband incessantly. My husband tells me, my husband says, my husband is my greatest support, my husband wants me husband and I got a second honeymoon to Aruba, my husband, my husband, my husband.

I was not in the right place today to hear about someone else's husband being so great. I think I am looping in selfish right now, and I know that this lady would NEVER have said anything which she thought might have upset me. However, after four hours, I wanted to look at this sweet lady with the nice husband who is so proud of her and scream, "Shut. Up. About. Your. HUSBAND. AL. READ. Y!"

Then, to add to my already bad attitude, I read an essay by a woman who talked about how, in the first year of widowhood, she thought she was in so much pain, but then the fog lifted, and she experienced real pain. Goody. Something to look forward to, by golly.

To cope, I cried, making up for yesterday's tear-free hours, bawling and blubbering, and sobbing until my ears are now clogged up. I took Rocky to the grief counselor, and Nita and I walked around this lovely little prayer garden at the facility, and I read the bricks etched with remembrances of lost loved ones. And I realized--I am sick of loss. My sister said that there is a reason we don't watch Survivor--we appear to be living it. Hey, stay tuned--our little group is huddled here on the island, waiting to see who is next. I never wanted to enter this contest in the first place, but here I am, live and in color.

So, I guess I will have to play the game with finesse.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A first

Today I made it through my first full day without crying.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Rainy Days and Sundays

The Carpenters, I believe, had a song which contained a line about, "Rainy days and Mondays always get me down."

For me, it has become rainy Sundays.

One week after EG died, a Sunday morning about midnight, there was a knock at my door. I hadn't been sleeping, so I was awake, reading, or at least pretending to read.

When I asked who it was, my neighbor asked me, "Can you come out here, please?" I opened the door to find him in the front yard, Rocky next to him, and a handgun in Neighbor's hand.

Neighbor informed me that Rocky had been in his daughter's bedroom, and sure enough, our ladder was leaning against their house, the top of the ladder about six or eight feet below the window. I asked if daughter was hurt, and her dad said no. Rocky said, "Mom, I can explain."

I looked over at his bedroom window, which had been disassembled to allow him to get out, with a contraption made of tae kwon do belts to assist him back into the house. I went Mom-ballistic, telling him that I doubted any explanation could be sufficient for that and telling him to get that ladder and put it away and we would Talk About This Later.

Neighbor said, "No. Leave the ladder there."

He called the police, and I called my sister. Rocky went to the porch and sat down, and after telling me he had been going out his window to walk for hours to get tired enough to sleep and had really been sleeping maybe 2 hours a night, and that he got confused about which house was ours, and that he had been afraid of hurting himself, I decided that, no matter what else happened, he needed to go to the hospital for a psych evaluation. Then Rocky went into what I can only describe as a near-catatonic state.

The police officer asked me if Rocky took drugs. I explained that, given his birth mom's history, I doubted it, but my sister and I tossed his room anyway. Over the years, I have gotten skilled at room tossing, but generally it was candy or snacks I was looking for, not drugs. We checked the alcohol cupboard. Blessedly, we found nothing. The police officer then asked my sister if she thought Rocky was faking. She said no, she doubted it.

Gradually, the police were more gentle with us as they learned what had transpired the previous weekend. However, they asked Rocky to make a statement, which he said he could not do at that time, and they Mirandized him. One week to the day after I lose my husband, I am standing there listening to my son being read his rights.

I rode in the ambulance with the same EMTs as the previous week as Rocky was taken to the same ER where his father had been. Several of the nurses came up and spoke to me, remembering us from the prior Saturday and offering comfort. Eventually, a very calm, benign, warm physician's assistant came in to speak to Rocky, basically empathizing with him and giving him permission to feel so horrible and out of control. Within minutes of his visit, Rocky fell asleep and stayed out for four hours.

Early Sunday morning, in a cold rain, Rocky was transported to an adolescent psychiatric hospital. Of course, the ambulance broke down at the central interchange in Cleveland, and Rocky had to be shifted from one vehicle to another. Of course.

I made it home about noon on Sunday, and my sister told the girls to let me sleep a bit. It dumped rain all day, eventually flooding the back yard and overflowing the gutters. I got up in the early afternoon and heated some pasta someone had made, and the girls and I watched Bedtime for Bonzo, staring at the black and white movie rather than the shades of gray outside. I commented yesterday to Nita that this particular day was the worst day of my life. She said it was the second worst of hers--the worst was the day her daddy died. I realized then that I had the gift of the Saturday morning with her dad, running errands, doing mundane things, and discussing how happy we were with one another and our life together.

Yesterday was another gray rainy Sunday. We were going to go to the movies, but at $7.50 for matinee pricing, we decided that wasn't going to happen when we have Netflix here at home. So Rocky watched The Invisible Man and Dracula, Nita had a friend over, and Kiki did homework, while I cleaned up a little and read some of The Help. At the supper table, my strong-willed Nita brought up the scene where the victim succumbed to Dracula, even bending her head to expose her neck for him to bite. That led to a discussion about whether Dracula had such hypnotic powers to draw his victims in or whether these women were simply simpering ninnies.

After a debate about what we would watch that evening, I declared a moratorium on TV, as there was nothing on smarter than any of us. So, the kids sat around and bickered, and I intervened for a couple hours. We were all tremendously relieved when eight o'clock rolled around and we were able to head off to bed without making it look like we were sick.

So, I need to determine just what we can do on the long gray Sunday afternoons which are coming up this winter, something to distract us from the beckoning depression which would be all to easy to succumb to, much like the intense, unblinking stare from Dracula mesmerizes his victims.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Today I cleaned out EG's dresser and closet. I bagged up the clothes in some wonderful paper bags we got the last time we went to the natural foods markets, and I put them in the car and drove them to Goodwill.

No one came out to the loading area despite me driving over the ding-ding cable several times, so I put all those bags on the dock and drove off without them. It was symbolic somehow, leaving his things behind, the sport coats, the ties, his jeans which never were the right length. The suit he wore when we got married. All were setting there on the concrete as I, weeping, went on to the next thing on my to-do list.

In less than a month, I have gone from being content and really rather happy, to someone who is in huge, banging pain all the time. And most likely, who could BE a huge, banging pain as well. What amazes me is how thoughtless people are: the woman who called and then complained about her husband's lack of consideration for over thirty minutes, the people who call me up and say, "I am worried about you--you aren't yourself." And there are those who keep mentioning that they want to DO something. It seems counter-intuitive to me, verbalizing how they want to lessen my burden and "help," but meanwhile, the pressure becomes a burden in itself.

I am not myself--part of me is gone, and the other part is in shock. I know that this is the new reality and I have to live in it. Everyone has to move on with their lives: we cannot freeze ourselves here in this sadness. Otherwise, I am no different than the clothes on the loading dock, being left behind while life moves on to the next thing.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Good Thing You're Strong

I swear, if one more person points out to me how strong I am, I will run shrieking into the woods and live with the deer, at least those who weren't scared off by my display of irritation. Yesterday, the guidance counselor at Rocky's school said, "Let me hug you. You are so STRONG."

I don't want to be strong. I want my best friend, my partner, my husband back here. I want this bad dream to be over, and things to go back to how they were. I want someone here to reassure me, to listen to me, to help me through the rough spots.

What do you do when your greatest source of support leaves you?

I don't want to raise these kids alone, but I must. I don't want to figure out how to get the tractor running again, to fix the ice maker, to pay bills online, to sleep alone, to do it all well enough. I don't want to face every day with chores, responsibilities, and duties and not have my own personal needs met.

I don't want to be strong, but what other choice is there? To be a blubbering mess day in and day out, hanging on people and sobbing out my misery? To stay in bed all day? To curl up in a fetal position and moan?

Not that these don't sound like viable options.

No..... I. Must. Go. On. One foot in front of the other, one more hour, one more mile, one more day. One more thing. And I have to remember this is my life, and I can spend the time I have left a slobbering mess, lying in my bedroom and staring at the ceiling, or I can get out there and do something.

I haven't even gotten out of bed this morning yet, but I hear Nita in the kitchen, most likely thinking about eggs for breakfast, Harry the dog is going to need to go outside, the chickens need to be let out of the house, and for my own sake, I need to see what this day will bring.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Open house

Last night was the first of many firsts. This time, I left the kids at home to go to Kiki's high school open house. I ran into people who had just heard (and who always ask, "Was it sudden?"), which creates the push-pull in me of giving them information vs. not talking about it yet again. I ran into people who hadn't heard and would say things like, "How's EG?" Um, dead? (Which, of course, leads to "was it sudden?") Most likely fine, but I can't say for sure? Oh, about the same as the past three weeks?

Of course, they could ask where he was, and I could honestly say, "Home." I wouldn't need to add that he was in my closet, or that he hadn't come out of the closet for two weeks now.

My sister and I ascribe to a black sense of humor, believing that laughing at something takes away the power and fear associated with it. We laughed during my parents' issues with Alzheimer's disease, and while some people were rather horrified, I think, it helped us cope when my mother announced that she was pregnant and that the baby was racially mixed (I noted to the staff that Lifetime might not be the best choice for a dementia wing).

My friend N's mother makes the absolute best potato salad on the planet. However, like most great cooks, she doesn't measure but prepares food more by instinct. For years, we have all tried replicating the recipe, which we could never get in writing. When N came home for the funeral, she had her mother walk her through the preparation so she could bring the potato salad for a meal. Afterward, N backtracked and measured all the containers and cooking spoons used in preparation to get accurate levels for the ingredients. Between sessions at the calling hours, people sat down for a meal and, as usual, raved about the potato salad. N announced that she finally had obtained the recipe, which is akin to the discovery of the Rosetta Stone. I said, "Well, we always said someone would most likely have to die to get this recipe, and poor EG was the one who had to take one for the team."

Fortunately, the people who were there got it and were not horrified.

However, right now, I am not in a place where I can laugh, where even jokes won't reduce the awfulness of what happened. I know I need to move on, that my life will pass me by if I wallow in this grief, and that EG would never, ever, ever want me to curl up in a ball and stay there. However, I need to be careful that I find that balance between grief inertia and completely ignoring my own needs.