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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day 2010

I slept in till 7AM, and once awake tried to recall the last Christmas break I spent with Bruce. The holiday has always been difficult for me. First, because I do not celebrate Christmas-so always felt that I did not belong, a troubling theme in my life. Second, because the holidays are about family, and there never seemed to be enough family gatherings this time of year-I was always missing someone-my parents, my cousins, my kids and now my husband. Belonging is my holiday loss, it always seemed that others belonged somewhere on the holidays. Others were invited places and that became a tradition and so they belonged to a group. I was amazed that even my kids were not included in the Christmas's that their friend's families celebrated when they were growing up.

Bruce loved going away for the holidays-just he and I. Most years we went to Hawaii, and in some ways bypassed my feelings about belonging. Who needed to belong when we were miles away from home? But yet there was always this lingering sadness, I was away from my family. The last year we traveled, I watched other families who had traveled together enjoy Christmas dinner at a beautiful resort in Kauai. The children were all dressed up and excited about Santa. They belonged to the big group enjoying the "most wonderful time of the year".

The last year Bruce was alive, we were undergoing the remodeling of our kitchen and I was really sick with the flu. Bruce had the holiday movies on television non-stop. I made a bed for myself on the couch and we sat and watched sappy movies, one after another. Bruce always teared up at the end when Santa, or the angel helped the protagonist find the perfect Christmas gift-love, companionship, a long lost family, a better life. It was a very uneventful holiday, I have difficulty remembering any of the details. But the shape of it still lingers-he and I together on the couch. He, absolutely captivated with Christmas, the music, the myths, the movies. Me, feeling a sense of loss-even then. How ironic.

So today I am going to join my cousins for lunch and maybe the day will pass and hold a little comfort for me. I am almost through this holiday and remain intact.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I have been thinking about the last entry, especially in light of the phone calls and conversations that followed from my family. I know that often these entries are hard to read because they seem so sad. I guess what makes the process of coping with the loss so hard is that change comes when you never really wanted any. Maybe that is always true, you fall into a routine and you get used to that routine. And invariably you are pushed in to a change that you never requested: maybe a change in a job because you got laid off, or a change in your spending because money is tight. Even a change in your trip to work because the freeway has construction. It is the magnitude of the change that is alarming here-I have to change and frankly do not want to. I was comfortable letting Bruce do the social stuff-planning the trips, the getting together with friends etc. Now I have to re-invent myself-which on the surface may seem exciting but in reality is not something I ever anticipated. My life was fine the way it was before his death. I had a busy career and a busy life with a very funny, loving, social husband who planned our extracurricular activities so that I had a very full life. Now my days are full with work but there is little else that occupies me. All of this would be fine, except the isolation, especially around the holidays, is hard to deal with.

So I need to take this non-social me and re-tool. Ugggh. I need to meet some new people or at least reach out to the people that I have shunned so successfully after Bruce's death. I am so talented at shutting everyone out. But I need to make the choice about whether to re-tool as I call it or be happy all by myself. Something has got to change.

I will think on this some more.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bad Day

Yesterday was a very hard day and I am still trying to figure out what set it off. I guess it started early in the morning when I was thinking about how hard it is not to have someone love me as much as Bruce did. Even when I was angry at him-I knew that he loved me. He frequently looked at me with such love and tenderness in his eyes and just before he died he told me that when I walked into the room, he still felt dizzy with love. Another widow told me what she really missed was loving her husband and pouring energy into him. I have to acknowledge that what I really miss is being loved. I was always aware that Bruce wanted to spend time with me all the time. This sometimes was a burden, but the absence of this all consuming love is horrific. I am often left feeling that really no one wants to spend time with me. And of course, I think about the people in my life, and the activities they are involved with. I am alone during the holidays, have no plans for a summer vacation.... Time stands before me and I need to do the work to bring everyone together. I do not really want to put the energy into planning things where I feel as if I am forcing others to be around me and I am not such good company. I am not sure what the answer is.

Yesterday, I also felt stressed by the work that I need to do and how inadequate I feel about my ability to do a good job. How much of this is the grief and the sadness and how much of this needs to be repaired, I do not know. I sometimes wonder if I need to retire from everything and start fresh. There is no pleasure in doing what I am doing because I feel that I am doing such a poor job. I have trouble with the smallest things such as getting papers graded and teaching a class. But the biggest issue is that I really do not get any pleasure or excitement from my job. I guess, like everything else, I am just going through the motions hoping that one day I will derive some pleasure from my life. When does this feeling end? I thought I had turned the corner, but at various points in the week, the distress is worse than ever.

And so I need to rally to be able to finish out the year. I need to be at meetings, preparing for them so that I get my work done. I need to finish grading papers. I need to take a trip to help out a family member. I need to try and revise a grant, and plan for the next quarter's courses. And I do not want to do any of it but have to push through and just do it. Where is my cheerleader now? Who will care when I don't get things done? Who will even know about it?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Home for the Holidays

I have been trying to remember bits and pieces and waiting then for the accompanying sadness. Less of a tidal wave, more of light veil wrapped around me. As I say endlessly, I miss him. The holidays bring more images of us, of him and in contrast the life I now own. I know that I dream of him. Yesterday, I think I dreamed that I was spending money we did not have and he was reminding me of the fact. The kids were younger and so the dream involved the whole family, maybe a bit of the past mixed with the imagined scenario.

I am pretty resigned to spend the holidays by myself, at home. Bebe will bypass the vet and I will try and plan each day with some time for school work, some time for house work (need to start organizing and throwing or giving away) and some time for relaxation (knitting and watching movies). I am a bit concerned that the time will pass with me accomplishing nothing but laying on the couch-so maybe I will set up a few days with nothing but couch time (I need to plan this at the end of some work time or work will not happen). Truth is that I am totally without any motivation to do anything, just want to crawl in to bed and stay there. Familiar lament, I know, but there it is. I am not sure if it will pass or how long it has been present.

Seems like I have been concentrating on just getting through the days. Part of my grief seems so surreal, and I try not to think, just do. Last week, our rabbi emeritus died, a wonderful man who knew Bruce and I very well. He called me once a week after Bruce died. I have spent the past week attending a funeral and paying a condolence call. I watched the recent widow cope with the death, while watching those of us who are less recent cope with the loss. I think I relived the grief I faced when Bruce died, when I attended the events surrounding the funeral. Not surprising that this happens-I think that sometimes my emotional state is hypersensitive to the events around me.

Time to start the day and get through it.