Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Grief Observed - The Right Thing at the Right Time

I'm a big fan of those times when circumstances just "happen" to bring you to the perfect place. Today was one of those days. I was at the airport for work and had some down time in between meeting with workers there. I had down time because my iPad was not cooperating in giving me access to the website I needed to do my ACTUAL work. My iPad was not cooperating because I am horrible about remembering to update the software as needed. All of this led me to about an hour of nothing to do while I updated my iPad with iOS6.

The solution?

An iBook I had downloaded months ago called A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis. It was the only book I had on the iPad that was still unread so I gave it a go. Within minutes I found myself fighting back tears as I read through the framework of a story much like my own - and that was just the Introduction. By the time I got to the actual book I stopped trying to fight the crocodile tears and just combined wiping them away with pretending to fix my hair. (I'm so slick.)

Thankfully, it wasn't until I got home and finished the book that I reached the part that really ripped out my heart, mostly for its raw honesty. (He refers to his wife who died as "H.")

Summer 2005
"I think I am beginning to understand why grief feels like suspense. It comes from the frustration of so many impulses that had become habitual. Thought after thought, feeling after feeling, action after action, had H. for their object. Now their target is gone. I keep on through habit fitting an arrow to the string, then I remember and have to lay the bow down. So many roads lead thought to H. I set out on one of them. But now there's an impassable frontierpost across it. So many roads once; now so many culs de sac."

"For a good wife contains so many persons in herself. What was H. not to me? She was my daughter and my mother, my pupil and my teacher, my subject and my sovereign, and always, holding all these in solution, my trusty comrade, friend, shipmate, fellow-soldier. My mistress; but at the same time all that any man friend (and I have good ones) has ever been to me. Perhaps more. If we had never fallen in love we should have none the less been always together, and created a scandal."

He had me at suspense. It's a place I've inhabited for the last (almost) ten months but never really had a word to explain it. That constant mode of waiting for the other shoe to drop, of wondering if something the customer service rep will say or something waiting in that stack of mail at home will bring on the wave and lead me to yet another dead end. There are still days when I get in the car to drive home from work and instinctively reach for the phone to call him. And still, ten months later, when I give Domani a bath I sometimes must remind myself that I don't need to leave the extra space for Joe to sit next to the tub. There are thousands of places where I drive that remind me of thousands of things about him or about our relationship. There is an abruptness and a distinct pain when I hit the culs de sac where roads of love and life used to be.

One of the things that I have heard from numerous sources during my own grief journey is that part of dealing with the loss of a loved one is recognizing the "secondary" losses that come with it. Lewis' list reminded me of that. I did an exercise while a member of my Griefshare support group this past spring where I began listing the many things that Joe was to me. It was an incredibly helpful thing to do as I realized that I did not *just* lose my husband. I lost my fellow Mets fan, my handyman, my Sunday afternoon sports watching buddy, my source of laughter, my lawn mower, my cuddler, my back massager, my fellow Giants fan, my source of patience, my Scrabble challenger, my travel buddy, my music expert, my confidant, my leaf raker, my snow shoveler, my bug killer, my bill payer, my drinking buddy, my encourager, my fellow Greg Dulli fan, my concert company, my perfect gift giver, my voice of reason, my adventure companion, my mechanic, my shoulder to cry on, my eating out company, my tech expert, my peace, my pop culture/TV/movie guru, my lover, my best friend, and an amazing father for our son.

To varying degrees I've been grieving each of these losses in their own way and if you've been following my blog you have gotten glimpses into many of them over the past 7 months. There are some days, weeks, or months when these losses stand out more than others.

Last week I especially missed my fellow Mets fan as Domani and I watched R.A. Dickey notch his 20th win with much fanfare at CitiField. Joe was an R.A. fan before it was cool and one of my big regrets is asking Joe to wait until after we finished breakfast to approach R.A. for a photo and autograph when we saw him in DC last year. He was gone by the time we went back out to the lobby.

This week it will be my fellow Greg Dulli fan and concert company that I will miss the most as I get to enjoy the Afghan Whigs in Toronto and NYC, including an opportunity to sit in on their soundcheck in NYC (thanks to my fellow Mother Runner & AW fan, Malinda).

Next week, as we celebrate Domani's 2nd birthday, it will inevitably be Joe the father that we will miss most of all.

Today, though, I am just thankful for the seemingly random circumstances that led me to A Grief Observed and a new way to be at peace with my own journey, however rocky it may feel.

"For in grief nothing 'stays put.' One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles or dare I hope I am on a spiral? But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?"

All quotes from A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis

1 comment:

  1. Your post here today is a raw and honest look at your loss. As I read this I felt as though I were tagging along with you on your journey. Your thought meandering led you down the road of recognition and around the bend of acknowledgment as you identified and named your secondary losses.
    Although, as you continue on your journey, it may continue to lead you to a cul de sac, I found it to be not only one of losses but more importantly a continual discovery of the deepness and completeness of the love that you and Joe shared.
    To me that is a cul de sac of hope and promise.