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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

This is for you Carole, and for me too

OK-so I was asked today if I had 1 enjoyable thing that I experienced today. Funny, before Bruce died it was three-now we are attempting to find one. It is a good exercise, I need to remind myself every day - what was enjoyable. It doesn't matter how small-I know that it is my best interest to find something.

The weird thing is that part of me does not want to acknowledge the joy. I do not think it is guilt that I am alive and he isn't. I know that it is ok to find pleasure in things and I do. I just feel so sad, I am wallowing in it. Maybe down deep I think that if I am miserable enough, he will come home, or maybe it is that if I am miserable enough, some good things will come my way? We had such a great few months back in September of 2008. We found this house, we sold ours, we reduced our debt, we bought such beautiful things for our beautiful house and we finally felt like we were climbing out of the hole and then Wham! One bad thing followed another-culminating with the death and then life was so bad and it remains bad. If I suffer enough, will things turn around? I do not know. But I am going to force myself to find something to acknowledge that is positive in each day.

So here goes:

What was good today:

The flowers were planted and my back patio and front patio looks good. I get pleasure from seeing it in order.

I watched a show called the Big C about a woman dying of cancer-who takes control of things in her life that were out of control. She thinks back to her adolescent son as a small boy and tries to connect with him. I thought of my 2 now adult children. I remember pieces of their childhood and the pleasure I got from them. I especially remember my little boy's arms and how he would crawl around on the ground which prompted people to call him bug. I remember my little girl's face as she slept, peaceful and flushed with sleep. I remember how we would play games in the car and on vacation, and how we would have song fests on long drives.
I got pleasure from watching the show-even though the storyline was rather macabre.

Tomorrow is another opportunity to find pleasure. More then.

after the unveiling

The unveiling was hard. The unveiling was nicely done. After the unveiling I felt doubly sad-as if the band-aid was pulled off the wound (as a friend of mine so aptly put it). It reminded me of what I was missing especially as family and friends spoke about Bruce and what they remembered about him. Someone said he was generous, someone else how he did not ever hold a grudge. I cried a bit, little leaky tears as the prayers were said over the gravestone.

I look back and remember how numb I was - how surprised I was by his death. Now how overwhelmed I am by his absence. How is it possible to miss someone so much? And not be able to tell the person you told everything to, how sad you are? He was the one that I complained to, and I would have complained to him about the loss.

I looked at his name on the stone and his name shimmered. Like him. He was a star in a crowd, often singled out on the street because he looked so dapper. People would stop him and compliment him on his matching socks and Hawaiian shirt. Right before he died, he was pretty thin and so proud of himself, that he practically lit up with glee. Sunday, his gravestone twinkled. It matched who he was in life.

The rabbi said that this was the end of the mourning period but I am not sure that it means anything to me. Mourning Bruce will take a long time. I am beginning to realize that his loss will be something I carry with me, maybe forever.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The visit

Yesterday I delayed as long as I could and then I visited the stone. I slowly approached the area and noted that there was a funeral very close by, in fact I could hear the service from the stone. I was disappointed that I could not be alone. I felt conspicuous - something that I came alone just to avoid. But I went up to the stone to look, to touch his name and to see how it affected me. I was washed over with a profound sadness-that continues. I teared up but did not cry. I wanted to-but was so aware of the activity to my left. I am not sure why it is so hard for me to cry. I would think it would bring some relief. But for some reason, I don't unless I am totally overwhelmed. I went to my car and left the cemetery, feeling so sad. I then went to pick up some food for the unveiling. At that point, I really did not feel like attending to buying, preparing or serving anything to anyone.

I still have the headache that started yesterday after the visit. Maybe it will last till Monday. Seeing his name reinforced his death in a way that makes no sense. I know that he is dead, I saw him die, I saw him in the coffin, I saw him buried. But staring at his name on the stone brought it back and my head is so filled with thoughts of him since then. When I went to sleep last night, before I fell asleep, I tried to relive the trip we took the summer before he died. Bruce and I walking the streets of Scotland, holding hands. Just after he died, I did that every night while I waited for sleep. It was comforting. But it gets harder to retrieve the memory and I worked hard last night to walk the streets with him hoping for some relief.

Friday, August 20, 2010

eighteen months exactly

Today it is Friday the 20th of August and it is exactly 18 months since Bruce died. I haven't always paid much attention to the 20th each month-but Fridays always make me a little sad. He died on a Friday the 20th in February so the fact that it is the Friday the 20th of August is creepy, especially since the unveiling is Sunday. We have scheduled the unveiling for Sunday but I am going to go today and check out the stone myself at the cemetery. I want to be prepared to see his name on the stone. I am not sure how I will feel-whether I will break down and cry, or just feel an overwhelming sadness.

It is interesting to think about my response to seeing his name and a beginning and end date. When we put a plaque at the synagogue, it really hit home that he was gone. Almost as if I need to see his name on something to really believe that he is dead. I want to touch his name on the stone and feel his absence. I know this sounds weird but I feel that it is another step in the process of acknowledging the loss and trying to create a life without him. What would I do if he were cremated? Would it bring any closure-where would I see his name?

I have not visited the cemetery much since he died, because it doesn't mean much to stand at a patch of grass and feel his presence. That is not where he is-if he indeed is somewhere. Maybe I will feel differently at the gravestone. Maybe I will "visit" him more often. Interesting to consider, especially if I think about the fact that I always wanted to be cremated. It may be that burial brings some odd closure to the process of acknowledging the death.

Anyway, we will see. I feel pretty brave to be going by myself, but I am doing this because I really do not like crying in front of other people. I have images of myself at the grave on Sunday and after the stone is unveiled throwing myself down and wailing in front of the rabbi and family members. I thought about whether it was sacrilegious to go before the stone is "unveiled" and then decided if it was a sin, what could possibly happen to me? My husband died, I buried my cat last year, my daughter is still out of work. I know I need to count my blessings but life has thrown me many challenges these past 18 months and I am not sure that I am out of the woods. When Bruce was first diagnosed with cardiac problems I lived with so much uncertainty about his health. I would worry about something happening to him. Then he died, and now I worry about the next catastrophe. But life has been pretty bad and if it gets any worse, I will just have to deal with it. I need to see the stone, need to touch his name, need to know whether I feel his presence there and whether the stone brings me any peace or comfort. But I know it will be a shock to see it and I am very unsure what emotions will overwhelm me.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Magic Pill so far

So, it has been 3 days and I am still evaluating. It may be too early to tell, so I will give it a month and see how I feel. I feel a tiny buzz if I concentrate on it. I still feel pretty sad and this is complicated by the coming weekend and the gravestone.

Life is too challenging. The world much more complicated that it needs to be. Stressful job, high maintenance dog, daughter out of work. As the stress ratchets up, it is increasingly important to keep your mood even. I always believed that it isn't about what happens to you, it is about how you handle what happens. That being said-how much can one person handle? In the midst of catastrophe, how good can your attitude be? That is the real challenge. Still, when I think back to my life before Bruce died, I did not always deal well with my circumstances. But now I realize that my circumstances were pretty good even though I was anxious and unhappy.

Not sure what the answer is-do they make a pill for that too?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Magic Pill

I finally got a prescription for some medication on Friday and now am officially medicated. I did not feel that I could continue to go on although maybe the end of the summer would bring me out of the latest deep valley. I do not want to move on but know that I must. I at some point need to leave the grief behind me.

I am not trying the medication because I think it will erase the pain. I think that the pain will be there always. What has got to change is how distracted I am by the grief so that I have a hard time concentrating on other things. Initially distractions were what helped me cope day to day-now the loss is the distraction. I am lonely and sad and overwhelmed by these emotions. Anything that goes awry totally sends me into a tailspin. I need to be more resilient than that. I need to be able to handle the variances in my life. This week Bebe was sick and I totally freaked out. The volume of work piling up paralyzes me. I need to be able to cope. I am hoping that if my mood lifts slightly, I will be able to manage. I am hoping that I will be able to focus and be productive. I am hoping for some magic from this little pill.

Next week I will finally see the gravestone and I know that I am dreading seeing his name at the grave. Part of me wants to finally place my hand there, but part of me recognizes that it represents another milestone in my loss. This has been such a hard summer, so much harder than the first. It is fitting then that I end the summer with the unveiling of the gravestone, 2 days after the 18 month anniversary of his death.

I continue to wonder how I got here. I remember back to the day on the 20th of February at the gym when he died and wonder how it all happened and how my life changed so radically in a matter of moments. I was a witness to part of it and yet still don't understand how all of this happened. My life before then is a bit dim, almost as if it happened to someone else and my life has always been lonely and sad. Or is this the part of my life that is happening to someone else? At times this feels so surreal.

Well, I am hoping for some magic. Even a smidgen to help me move along, past the gravestone, past the loss, past the life that I lost. On to something different.

Monday, August 9, 2010


This summer has been so traumatic. I have been trying to figure out why, why now, why this summer, the second summer without Bruce. I would have thought it would have been easier, a welcome respite from the frantic pace of the academic year. But I packed it full of tasks and deadlines and work without considering the need for play and rest. And I watched as everyone around me took advantage of the summer and planned trips and days off-often with spouses and friends. It has made me feel more isolated and sad than before. Even my neighborhood is vacant-and I can only remember with pain the summers before when we marked the time between our trips and activities.

And a few weeks ago, I got an image of myself one summer long ago. I was teaching somewhere where we were on a 9 month contract and there was no expectation that I would be in the office at all during the summer. I remember feeling so unhappy-not sure how to proceed or what to occupy my time with. Bruce was working on a book and I wanted him to stop work and entertain me. So I have to wonder whether the summertime blues are a natural part of who I am. Has there always been some distress around June, July and August? Some part of me wants to pick at this and some part of me understands that this will bring no comfort. Does it really matter?

I have been thinking too about the use of some aids to help me through this wicked time. Many many of the people in my life have advised me to use some medication. I recognize that there is no magic pill to ease the grief-nothing that anyone can prescribe will bring Bruce to the door - I would take this medication in a minute-no matter what the side effect. But maybe it is time to get help with the other symptoms of my loss.

A dear dear friend asked me the other day-what could I possibly gain from being on medication? What other outcomes do I wish to change (aside from the actual loss, which is beyond my control)? I would like to be less exhausted and sleep better, I would like to be more focused and more productive, I would like to be less overwhelmed with my sadness as it seems to be all consuming even at 17 months from the day that he died. I recognize that there is nothing that can move grief along-it has it's own rhythm. I will move through this at my own pace, maybe whether I am on medication or not. I am cognizant that there is no escape-but maybe there is some help?

I need to do something.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

the road ahead

Last week I decided to take a break and left town for a few days. I was hoping for some relief - some rest so that I could return and be more functional and less bereft. Today I will head back home and tomorrow I will go back to work and see how I feel. The road ahead is somewhat uncertain-at least emotionally.

I am not sure how I will recover from this loss. Sometimes the pain is from missing Bruce and sometimes the pain is from other losses-being alone for the first time, navigating the life that 2 people made, feeling lonely. I lost my best friend, my cheerleader, my confident, my coach. Aside from missing him, it has thrown my whole life and life plan out the window. All the plans we made, the life I imagined-now is meaningless. And with all the pain, is the turmoil. I now need to be somehow more functional than I have ever been. As I write this-I wonder if it is true-I guess I have an excuse now. But who excuses me? I guess I expect myself to be on target - even if I am not sure where the target is anymore.

How will this get easier? Is it merely the "getting" used to his absence, the burden of being the only worker bee in my life? Does the pain ease just because the memories fade with time? I remember being married once and being loved and cared for. I remember being Bruce's everything-feeling that love every single day. I remember coming home from a busy day and unloading my angst on his shoulders and having him spin the day's events. Will I forget this, will my memories feel like they are some dream I had, or good book that I have read? I have been told that at some point I will turn the corner on this intense grief. How does this happen? Do I need to create it?

I know that I am so tired of this new chapter in my life. I need a respite but he is not here to prod me to take some time to recoup. I need to be more aware of the fatigue and the workload. I am on a road I have never traveled before and there are many hills ahead.