Posts Tagged With: sadness

Still Crazy After All These Months

Seven months today.

I thought by now I’d feel better, be on the upswing.

But no. If anything the cycle of grief leaves me reeling from an upside down outside loop (is that even possible?) and rockets into this cavernous roiling flame-filled pit of wild emotion I don’t even recognize. Anger, tears, blame, sorrow, regret; those words only skim the surface some days.

Sounds stupidly dramatic.

Kathy would say, “Oh, get over yourself woman.” Then we’d drive over to Freddie’s for their super skinny fries and epic fry sauce and a concrete mixer with caramel and nuts and fudge and two days worth of calories in one sitdown whine fest.

What an awesome listener. The world needs more listeners like her. What an honest, straightforward tell it like it really is talker. We need more of that, too.

If I were to follow her example when someone asks how I’m doing I would NOT say, “Oh, I’m fine!” Instead I’d say, “I’m a wreck!”

I miss her like crazy. I miss us. Our friendship. Our uniquely bizarre mix of humor, life’s experience and often wordless communication created five years of something beyond special.

Now, months later, there’s still this gaping hole of her absence. And I keep tripping and falling into it. Hurts every time. I just can’t seem to navigate away from the edge, yet.

Maybe someday. Maybe at the one year point. Y’think? I don’t know.

She’d be mad at me if I left this post hanging on a negative note. She’d be mad at me for the whole post, honestly. Oh well, she’ll have to come haunt me to shut me up. So there.

Here’s where I insert the jokes.

But just to be safe, (I don’t really want her haunting me) here’s a few fairly good, clean George Carlin one liners. (Hint: it helps to say them out loud in your best comedian voice, with a nice pause at the end for a rim shot, pa da, pum! )

  • If a turtle doesn’t have a shell, is he homeless or naked?
  • Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery?
  • Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?
  • How do they get the deer to cross at that yellow road sign?
  • Does the Little Mermaid wear an algebra?
  • Is it true that cannibals don’t eat clowns because they taste funny?
  • If the police arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the right to remain silent?

Alright already, I’ll stop now.

Laughter? Really?

I’ve found salvation and solace in laughter the past few months. It’s cathartic. It’s healing. It’s like medicine, without the weird side effects.

I’m fine. Really. Most of the time I am. I just have these moments that last a day or two or three. It helps to write it out loud, kinda gets it out of my system.

I’ll sign off today the same way I used to tell her goodbye. The same way I said goodbye for the last time.

“Love ya, Kathy. See ya later.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The title for today’s post is a take off on a song by Paul Simon, “Still Crazy After All These Years.” It speaks to me on so many different levels. You can listen to it here.

 

 

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Categories: Cancer, Death, Friendship, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Can Nothing Feel Like Something?

The pass I’d given myself to wallow, read, sleep, and grieve, expired its “use by” date about a month ago.

“I’m sorry ma’am, that coupon isn’t valid anymore.”

Somehow things suddenly kicked into high gear a couple of weeks ago and my mind and body filled up the space and time I rent from the life library. I went back to the gym, put away my pile of “to read” books, started a new volunteer project, began cooking dinners, even made bread, and made headway with the  stuffpiles that inhabit every room in the house.

photo by Sarang

photo by Sarang

In other words, my life shifted into a new normal. At least I thought so.

Two nights ago, MSH said something completely innocent and ordinary, and with his words the doorknob to my emotional storeroom clicked.

The door opened.

The air changed not in a physical sense, but just as clearly as the temperature and smell in a house changes when a door gets left open in midwinter, I knew something was different.

Can nothing feel like something?

Yes. Without argument. Absolutely yes.

I felt the loss of my best friend as raw and new as January. Instantly.

That emotional door allowed an onslaught of emptiness and loss to escape. I could no more push it away than a person can shove the cold air back outside and slam the door on it. The cold inhabits the room. It takes time and effort to reheat the inside air.

Two days, almost three, and I’ve felt lost again, unable to force away limbo and hurt and sorrow.

It’s not like I’m constantly thinking about her. Not at all. It’s more like her absence inhabits me. How does an emptiness fill something? I have no idea. I just know that’s what it feels like.

There’s a mental numbness involved as well. I find myself not engaging in conversations, barely following the words, the back and forth of it. My body’s in the room, but my mind, my focus, simply isn’t anywhere.

Photograph by Tomasz Sienicki

Photograph by Tomasz Sienicki

What do I do about it?

I don’t know. Keep breathing. Keep moving. Do.

Or maybe I need to not do anything. Maybe I give myself over to the feeling of loss, all over again. Sit in my porch swing and stare, again. Cry randomly, again. Pray more than normal, again. Muster up energy to respond to texts and emails, again. Sleep way too much, again. Stand around aimlessly and unproductive, again.

I’m guessing this sensation will go away eventually. I’m expecting that writing about it, out loud, here, might help.

It might come back again, too. I think grief does these looping things. It’s not a linear, stage by stage processing of the loss, but a kind of wandering path of varying emotions or lack of them. Occasionally the paths cross, I wander on to a different one without even realizing I’ve changed direction.

Don’t get me wrong.

I don’t feel hopeless.

That isn’t it at all. I just feel lost. Lost. Lost. Lost. Or empty. Very empty. Very very empty. As if I’ve been poured out on the sand and absorbed.

Wow. That sounds horrible. It isn’t as bad as it sounds, but then it isn’t really great either.

I’m fine. Really.

It’s just…grief.

This thing:

Grief is a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something to which a bond was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, spiritual, and philosophical dimensions.” ~Wikipedia

Sounds complicated.

Multifaceted response?

Dimensions?

Ten dollar words to describe and define sadness, sorrow, emptiness, hurt, and the left-behind perspective.

It’s today’s normal for me. And apparently yesterday and the day before. Maybe tomorrow and the next. We’ll see. Like a lifeboat on the ocean I’ll just drift about and see where the current takes me.

In the meantime, I’ll do my best imitation of a normal person when I’m in public.

There’s this last thought, which I like because it feels hopeful, and it acknowledges that there’s a process in play that I can give myself over to.

“Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door.” ~ Emily Dickinson

photo by Klaus D. Peter, Wiehl, Germany

photo by Klaus D. Peter, Wiehl, Germany

Categories: Death | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Good Grief and other Nonsense

My internal weather.

My internal weather.

“The only education in grief that any of us ever gets is a crash course. Until Caroline had died I had belonged to that other world, the place of innocence, and linear expectations, where I thought grief was a simple, wrenching realm of sadness and longing that gradually receded. What that definition left out was the body blow that loss inflicts, as well as the temporary madness, and a range of less straightforward emotions shocking in their intensity.” ~Gail Caldwell, Let’s Take the Long Way Home

I read this book by Gail Caldwell a while back. Before I’d met my best friend. It was an interesting read back then. I even quoted it several times in this blog post last year.

Now I’m rereading the book as a roadmap, trying to find my way out of this jungle I’m lost in.

I had no idea I’d feel this way. I thought I’d feel sad, of course, after Kathy’s Myeloma wrenched her from life. But this isn’t anything like any sadness or depression I’ve ever felt.

There’s real, tangible physical pain. No one ever told me about that. People don’t discuss grief actually, so when would I have learned this?

And I have only one channel in my head that comes in clear enough to see or hear, the Kathy Channel. Twenty-four hours a day it plays. That bluish light that a TV screen throws out haunting the recesses of my head day and night. Oh sure, I hear and see other things. I go about my day at one-quarter speed, doing dishes, moving laundry about, showing up at places I said I’d be at.

But the background buzz, hum, light, music and weather consists of Kathy. She’d find that funny and pathetic at the same time. Glad I could humor her, sorry if I’m letting her down.

I can’t find a remote to change the emotional channel I’m stuck on.  And it takes more energy than I have to look for it and figure out the buttons if I stumbled onto it.

Insert exhaustion photo here. Picture whatever fits for you, I can’t think that hard today.

I feel successful when I get dressed. When I eat. When I carry on a conversation without saying her name or referring to her somehow.

Please don’t ask me to go to the grocery store. It takes hundreds of steps to get to the dairy section, and more energy than I have to lift the gallon of milk into the cart. And then seeming miles away the produce section waits, the logic of its order lost on me. And the loudspeaker blaring, do loudspeakers do anything else but blare? Obviously the overnight restocking crew cranks the music up and no one ever turns it down. How am I supposed to think through this grocery list with so many bad songs from the eighties and nineties blasting away at my every thought? And heaven forbid I should see someone I know. I dig up my cheerful face, drag out my pretend untired voice, pull my shoulders back to give the illusion of standing up.

I attempt all the right responses.

“Fine. Great. Tough. Getting through. Life. Goes On. Thanks. Sure. Uh huh. See ya around.”

Then I cave in on myself. I want to curl up in the shopping cart and sleep, right there beside the salad dressings and croutons and bacon bits. Pull some cereal boxes over my head like a bad blanket.

But that would indicate some kind of madness or lack of sanity or a grip slipped. So instead, I stare at the grocery list and find something on it that tells me what I should do next, if I can go home yet.

All this from a mere five-year friendship.

I can’t begin to fathom a twenty-five year marriage with half of the duo gone. It’d be like a body with no skin, all raw, exposed nerves and internal parts on fire with rage, salt encrusted, oozing.

Someone should do something to fix this. This can’t be right. Aren’t there rules or laws that make this kind of pain illegal or impossible?

Categories: Cancer, Death, Mental Health, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

What’s for Lunch?

Coconut cream pie.

Photo of a slice of coconut cream pie. Taken a...

An ice-filled glass of coke, or two.

(Not the diet stuff, but the real live sugar saturated elixir.)

That was lunch today.

I feel better emotionally now. Not so much in the tummy. My heart has a little bit of zippiness going, y’know, that extra little beat occasionally?

Honestly, I stayed up too late watching a couple of episodes from season six of “Burn Notice” that just made it onto Netflix. It’s my nightly decompression fix lately. So, sleep deprivation might factor in to the heart fluttery thing and the craving for caffeine and sugar.

Stress could be part of it. Just possibly.

It’s not fun seeing your parents have to rewrite and reorder and realign their lives as illness throws obstacles in their path. I want to fix it all. I want to make everything better, dial back the clock five weeks and somehow circumnavigate the whole stroke thing. I want to move in permanently and be a cushion, bubble wrap, the go-to guy, backup, a wingman.

Obviously, I can’t.

I know, I know. They’re going to be just fine. More than fine. I hope. Between the two of them they outnumber my experience and wisdom by a good one hundred years. Do I sound like I’m trying to convince myself? I’m a lousy motivational speaker.

pink miniature rose against blue sky background

(Photo credit: Vanessa Pike-Russell)

Didn’t I just suggest a day or two ago on this very blog that I ought to “worry less.” Yeah, I did. I’m not so good at following my own advice. I suppose I need to post something about getting enough sleep. Maybe I’d be better at following that advice. Or not.

Life isn’t always roses and blue skies. Sometimes it hurts.

So.

The pie. And the Coke.

It’s probably a really good thing I’m not a drinking woman.

Categories: Family, Food | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Life Gives You Snails, Make Escargot

Day seven of Mom’s new adventure. She’s working with several different kinds of rehabilitation therapists about four hours a day and then resting from the hard work of it all. She can walk with assistance. She’s speaking better everyday. Remembering names is sometimes a bit tricky for her. She has some right side vision neglect that they are working on. She still has her sense of humor and expresses gratitude and love to everyone who visits or helps her out in any way.

&&&&&

We lived in the Northwest for a few years once upon a time. Humid and cool, opulent with growing things. We picked wild blackberries, rock climbed, camped, collected shells in the too cold water below the Tacoma Narrows bridge.

Winters were mild, with a couple of rare days of snow. Summers were cool and cloudy.

English: Snail Perfect weather for snails to c...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Perfect conditions for snails.

Yes, snails.

Slimy, slow-moving, bulbous shelled creatures of shadow and night.

They left trails of slime across the screens and sidewalks. And the destruction they left in a flower bed aggravated me to no end.

I tried a few remedies. Beer in a bowl, useless. Slug and snail bait, laughable. Salt, only if applied directly and mercilessly. I finally gave up planting flowers when I realized how addictive they seemed to snails.

I imagined the little slime balls after a night of debauchery in the flower beds, drunk on the nectar of blossoms and stems, fuzzy headed with the liquor of leaves and roots. I chose to stop enabling their habit and consequently stopped planting the hopeful pops of color in my garden.

That would teach them a lesson or two.

But no, it didn’t. They simply slimed the screens and sidewalks with more vehemence in search of their drug of choice. Finding no flowers to wreak havoc on, they slimed my yard more and more.

Why am I bringing this up now? (Besides the fact that the weatherman keeps taunting us with a 20% chance of rain as if a deluge is likely any moment.)

Those slimy snails remind me of negative things; sadness, anger, hopelessness, frustration, meanness, selfishness.

Those emotions seem to leave a wake of slimy yuck behind them. I feel the aftereffects of aggravation long after the source of the emotion dissipates. Sadness lingers. Meanness replays itself over and over in a mental movie of hurt. And selfishness hovers like a skunk that passed by hours ago.

The residual effects of negative emotions stick like slime.

Negativity and pessimism act like addictive substances. One angry thought invites another until a whole room of anger buzzes and jabs. Anything in its wake takes a hit and comes up fighting. Slime trails wander everywhere.

Gross.

The cure?

French cooked snails

French cooked snails (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t know. (We don’t get many snails here in the desert.)

Sunlight, maybe?

Heat, perhaps.

Escargot tastes delectable if done right. Saute’ in butter, add a bit of garlic, a pinch of fresh parsley. Mmmm. Some crusty french bread on the side.

Ah yes, there’s the ticket.

Yummy.

That’s no answer. I realize that.

Or is it? Try this one on for size:

When life gives you snails, make escargot. 

Laughter often sparks more laughter. I’m pretty sure that hope can be contagious. Smiles seem transmittable. Kindness often avalanches into more kindness. Determination to succeed, to overcome, to soldier forward feels healthier and happier.

Can I choose positive emotions over negative? Sure. Is it an easy choice? For some, yes. For others, not necessarily.

In the face of hardship, illness, unkindness, hurt, abuse, loss, suffering or setbacks, choosing the plus side takes audacity. It requires mettle to move forward, keep trying, be kind anyway, turn the other cheek, forgive, smile or to look at the alternate path as a new adventure.

Yes, I know. Not too many people like the idea of eating snails, no matter how wonderful a delicacy. But, you never know until you try if you’re gonna like ’em or not. Or maybe you don’t mind the slime trails and flower bed destruction. More power to you for being so resilient and easy-going.

Either way, life is full of surprises good and bad. How we weather those surprises, as gifts or troubles, makes all the difference.

Categories: Gardening, Nature, Outdoors, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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