A Grief Observed, part 5

I didn’t have a post for last Friday, since I was prepping for a trip out of state to visit family. So today’s post will simply be another grief journal entry, as it would have been on Friday. Hopefully we’ll have another guest-post coming soon too. Thank you for reading as always. Love & light ❤

PS: I want to share another blog with you that really resonates with me; I hope you enjoy it too, especially if you are a widow/widower like us. http://widowofwonder.blogspot.com/

Fourth Night

Then we get back to the house and sis-in-law trims the hair by my ears and neckline before I head home. I don’t run into much traffic and I get home to have some good dinner with the parents, which someone from our old church made and brought over. I write more of this journal. I look at pictures and pick out songs for hours, making sure I have enough to get started and to make it just right for you.

The slide-show and tribute arrangement. You always told me how funny I was about getting projects like this, how detail-oriented I would get. I know you loved how geeky I was, even though you laughed at me. I miss your laugh. Why can’t you laugh for me again? I know you’re laughing and singing in Heaven. I know. It doesn’t always help us down here. But I will try to remember.

Earlier on the drive I called or messaged your four closest friends. I’m happy that D and C can make it, being so local. B will try, but she’s not sure. They are all devastated to hear the news. I have a hard time saying it out loud, but it’s also helpful to cope. And it’s nice to hear their voices and their fondness and memories of you. Even if you did not talk as much a you may have wanted to, they understood, and they loved you. We all loved you. We still do.

Sleep is difficult again. I do use the meds, but it has to be in two shifts again. Keira is doing much better though, happily sleeping on the cool floor beside me. I wake up and eat an ice cream bar before going back to bed. I stare at your picture again. I try talking to you. It’s hard, but I hope you hear me. I love you.

Fourth Day

I go to church with the parents in the morning, after getting up early with Dad and the dogs. They’re doing well today. I have breakfast early, the oatmeal from home; it’s something that feels routine. But I get nauseous again, so I take another nausea pill. I’m glad that you made me take them when necessary, even though it makes me sad that they’re yours. You won’t be able to get them anymore. I guess I will still be able to refill them for a while.

Mom and I go thru Starbucks and then have to drop something off at S’s house. She comes out to give me hugs for you. I drink my Salted Caramel Mocha Frapp, double blended of course. You made fun of me for swirling in the whipped-cream as soon as I could. I loved how I would always get your leftover drinks. I will miss that. My mom has the refillable Starbucks gift card from us that you customized and wrote on for her. She will cherish it even more now. We miss you.

Church is helpful for me. We hadn’t been there in a long time, but everybody loved you still, and misses you. C lost her husband at around our age, so she is a really understanding soul and will be a good support. Many people express their sympathy. And J&M of course, are without words. The junior pastor is actually an old friend of ours from childhood. He prays with me afterward and makes sure I know that he’s always available, as is the grief counseling group that they hold on Thursdays. I might do that. You would have liked his impromptu pre-sermon prayer this morning. There were a lot of people and families dealing with loss, with illness and death, and he felt the need to make sure those bad spirits and negative energies were chased away by love and support and grace.

Your dad wanted to come over for lunch, picking up El Pollo Loco. But he is sick and had to throw up and stuff. I think he’s really not doing well. Even though you weren’t that close, you were his little girl too. So we have J&M over instead, which is nice to see them. We play cribbage and I win. M helps me with some info and tips about dealing with arrangement-related things. She loved you. They all did.

Then I have to go back to the house and our room to pick up a few things, including your laptop and some blankets for your family. It’s difficult, but I don’t stop this time. I do still keep expecting you to come back to the bed. My mom keeps K company and makes sure he’s doing okay. We bring back the spare car for our visiting relatives to have a spare care just in case while they’re here. So many of them are coming on such short notice. It’s a wonderful showing of love and support. You know that you were family to them, to all of them, and they loved you.

I finally talk to cousin J. She’s been having a hard time too, especially since they just moved away. She can’t make it for the service but she’ll try to come down for the weekend to be with us. Her babies are just too much to make last-minute arrangements for. She’s happy to be living in their own place now, after only having to spend a week in the very crowded house of her friend. She loved playing cards with us before they left, and we all laughed so hysterically at your ridiculous penis drawings on the score pad. You won’t play shanghai [rummy] with us again. Why can’t you play cards with us anymore?

the empty chair (poem)

A Dream Of You

Last night I dreamt you had come back to me. It was as though the last several months were just a ruse, a strange fiction whose purpose and origin were like gossamer on the wind.

You were sitting in bed with me by your side. We talked about your medications as you put them into your organizers. You spilled some on the blanket and I helped you pick them up. We argued briefly about one of them. Why is that the main thing I remember from this dream? That’s not nice.

Couldn’t I have just seen your face, your beautiful smile and loving eyes? Could we not have simply held each other again, your head upon my chest and our hands interlocked? This is how I need to remember you, in my arms, your golden hair caressing my cheek and neck, your soft lips against mine, your warm loving arms wrapped around me as mine around you. To say “I love you” again, not to the air or the portraits or the keyboard and screen, but to YOU, the real you, the you that is my heart, my soul, my mate. What I wouldn’t give for this.

The dream ends and the reality of another day must be faced. Alone, yet unalone. Sometimes it’s much easier to say that than to feel it. Please remember to remind me when you are near. I love you. I loved you.

two lovers embrace in a stormy yet calm sleeping position
To have and to hold…

A Grief Observed, part 4

Third Night

I give your mom the leopard blanket, and she wraps it around her immediately. It smells like our room. D gets some of your smell & love from it too before bed. I take out the laptop to find some pictures. I sit by Mom’s bed and show her. Some of my own, but we try to look at yours mostly because of how you loved to touch them up and make them pretty.

You never needed anything extra to look beautiful, but you always knew how to shine.

We look at memories of Christmas, Vegas, Wicked, the fair, our families and our nieces and nephews being born. And you were always so happy, even though we couldn’t have our own. Hadn’t. We didn’t know.. But you knew. Somehow. You had faith that we would find a way. It wouldn’t be easy. Your pictures are all I have right now. Thank you for taking so many, for always insisting that we have them even when I didn’t feel like it.  Thank you for making sure that I backed them up when you changed phones and laptops. We have so many pictures of so many good memories together. Mom and I will never forget how many sweet scrapbook-like projects you made for us, for Valentine’s or Mother’s days. You always found the best pictures of everybody, and added your quotes and designs. We won’t get any more though. It’s not fair. Why can’t you come back and make more?

I try to sleep. This time I have your unicorn blanket and your bathrobe. As well as your pillow from before. I need a fan on me in the warm house. The air mattress is pretty okay. Most of us get up at one time or another in the wee hours, snacking on a cheesecake or something from the dinner package. I use your sleeping meds this time because I know it helps. You always made sure I was taken care of, even though it was my job to take care of you more. I love you. I loved you.

Third Day

Today is hard, but it helps to be with your family. Our family. I have some leftovers for breakfast and C makes coffee. I still don’t feel right. D says I probably don’t know what to do with myself because I’m used to busying-about for you. That’s somewhat true. But mostly I just need you here.

I start this journal today. I sit in your favorite recliner chair with the laptop and just write. I am still tired. We need to start looking at mortuaries but I can’t get myself up and dressed until it’s almost noon. We try one place but they closed. We try another but we don’t like it. Finally your mom just has a wonderful lightbulb moment. We should do it in Redlands. That’s your first home, and where your friend from high school was buried. We all immediately like the idea. Well, as much as you can in this situation.

Brother & his fam came over again. S has oodles of straws and other random bundles of things, we don’t even know what she does with them. You loved her so much. And she loved you. We won’t know how to tell her when she’s old enough. We won’t even know when she’s old enough. Also your aunt B came and brought some more food. She offers to open her home for the family and friends after the service, since we’ve decided on Redlands. That helps ease D’s mind a bit.

Mom, D and I drive over to Redlands to get to the chosen chapel before they close. We definitely like it much better than the other places. We sign the release form for them to get you from the county. We would have wanted it to happen sooner but they can’t do anything on Sundays. We make plans to come back Monday afternoon to finalize all the arrangements.

It is nice to ride in the car with them, we can all reminisce about you. It’s amazing how much effort from your family went into making sure we met for our first date, from your aunts convincing you to take the date in the first place, to your mom making sure you waited for me after I was running so horribly late. I am so lucky, so blessed that they did. That was the beginning of the best, most wonderful ten years of my life.

grief-quote-hardest-let-go-angels-carry

A Grief Observed, part 3

Second Day

The parents’ dogs wake everybody up at 5am. They must be really restless. My dad gets up for work again. I have some oatmeal to try to feel routine. And some of your poppy seed muffin. It’s all dry to my mouth. I can’t make it the same as I would at home. Our home. You always made our home feel warm and cozy. The dogs finally settle down and I curl up in my spot on the recliner again, this time with your pillow and the blanket that you gave my mom.

I doze. I dream bits and pieces of you. I think I hear your whistle, as you would do when I was working and you needed something. Why didn’t I check on you earlier? I just thought you were asleep. You needed rest, your body was in pain. But I should have felt something was wrong. Why didn’t I know something was wrong? Could I have done something? I don’t understand. Everybody tells me it’s not my fault. Is it my fault? Please tell me. Please forgive me. I was supposed to take care of you.

Is it still morning? Why is time going so slow? But is that what I wanted? It doesn’t make any sense. You should be here. I should be there. Why are we not together. Mom wants us to go to brunch. We decide on Penfolds. You loved that place, with Kristen when she came down to visit. We always had so much leftovers. You know I loved leftovers. We always shared everything. I can’t eat much today, but I try.

We’re heading up to your family’s house. I have to pick up a few more things from our room. I take a few clean blankets, the unicorns and a leopard. And your bathrobe. I kneel down by the bed again. I had to use the bathroom. Your things are all still there, waiting for you to come back. I don’t know what to do with myself for a few minutes. I want you to come in the door and tell me it’s all okay. Where have you gone?

The house is busy. They just had new carpet put in, and repainted stuff. The old couch and loveseat are up for sale. New dressers are here, other things will come later. I arrive just when Mom and D get back from something. Your brother too. We hug. You loved his daughter like your own. We have a moment. But he knows you want us to be okay. We have to try for you. It’s hard.

We get busy moving furniture around. It’s good to keep our hands busy. C is working the hardest, but I can tell he’s over-extended. He takes breaks at least. L arrives to help too. Brother is being the electrician and entertainment tech. Mom’s dresser is way too tall to put her big TV on. They’ll have to figure something else out. S is doing well in her speech therapy class, naming shapes and things. J arrives with her a bit later. S is being “flirty” with me again. You always said that too. [S is our niece, about 3 years old at this point.]

Some of my family arranged a meal delivery. It was sweet of them to do. Dahlia’s Italian. It’s very good. Way more food than we can handle, but we all enjoy some. You would have liked the garlic bread the most. I liked the lasagna. Mon and D got pizza from the place one time. I have a beer. It doesn’t taste like anything, but it helps a little.

I talk with M outside for a little while. She’s been so helpful for your mom. Even though she’s not a very verbal person right now. I know she’s hurting so much for you. And your dad too. He took it the worst that night. But we all have to cope in our ways. It’s still not fair. Why can’t you come back to us? I wish that the doctors had done more. Could they have? Could I? What was it, what happened? We won’t know for weeks. The coroner said it could take even a month or more. I guess they want to be sure. It’s just not fair. I want an answer. But I don’t know if it will help. Would they tell me a time? I didn’t ask yet.

angelic statue mourning over graveyard

A Grief Observed, part 2

To maintain its “raw-ness”, I will try to refrain from making any alterations to the original writing. The only exceptions being names (except the dog, you all know her already), and if I feel something is absolutely critical for clarity/continuity. In the latter case, you’ll see [italics in square-brackets]. I will occasionally add other styling for emphasis or readability.

The Day After

My mom makes me some eggs. I did okay, but I have some nausea. You always had nausea.. I’m glad you don’t anymore. But in a way I feel like it’s a part of you that’s now with me. That sounds so strange. You always told me to take something, your own medicine that you shared with anybody who ever needed some.

I play your favorite songs on YouTube. But also songs that help me deal. You always made me love more music than I would have thought possible. And you made sure I shared it with you. These are songs about loss. But also songs about life and love. You loved so much, so passionately. Anybody who took the time to know you knew that. And anybody who did not, did not understand what they missed.

You were too good for this world. But I needed you. I still need you. I love you. I loved you.

I can’t stop crying. All you wanted, all we wanted, was to have a baby and a family. We can’t do that now. It’s not fair. You would have been the best mommy in the world. You have so much love to give. I am so lucky to have had you. But it’s not fair that you’re gone. I need your love, your laugh, your touch. You made me whole. I can’t understand. Why are you gone?

I call L and break down. He gets on the road right away to come from Vegas. Dad goes to work for a little while. I’m sure it’s hard to work right now, but things don’t stop. Why can’t the world stop? I just need it stop. But time does slow down. I stare at the clock. I sit in the recliner couch near the best air vent in the house. We always kept our place cold for you. Now I can’t stand even being mildly warm. I tried to have a fan on last night but it wasn’t enough.

I go back to our house to get some more things. I need your pillow. I need one of your blankets. But I can’t bear to use the one I found you in. I make the bed for you as if you’re coming back. I even rinse out your cool drink cups. Why can’t you come back and use them again? I kneel by the bed with my head where you were. Are you still there? No.. It smells like you. But it also smells like something else. I can’t say it right now.

Second Night

L arrives. They pick up some Rubio’s for dinner. I’m not sure how I can eat. But I have some chips and beans, and finally a fish taco. Still nauseous. We just talk about memories. I watch Supernatural on Netflix. I try to explain it to them but you know my favorite episodes are terrible examples of the show because of how abnormal they are. You loved to laugh at that.

I take a benadryl and try to sleep. I put on Jurassic Park [one of her all-time favorite movies] in the background. Kiera is now sleeping in her crate just in front of me. She had escaped out the front door earlier. I don’t understand why. But she was looking for you. She wandered down the street. I couldn’t get her to come to me. I cried because I did not want to lose her. She was your baby, our baby. She loved you so much. I know she knows something is wrong. Please try to tell her it’s okay, that her mama loves her from Heaven.

angel with broken wings cries

Today You Would Be 34

Today is short, sad, and stubborn. Yet agonizingly long. Today is K’s 34th birthday. Was. Would have been? I don’t know. It’s still a significant day in our lives. It will be for a long time.

But you don’t age anymore. You’re brilliantly sparkling in a paradise of boundless wonder and joy. Or is it a black morass of void and crushing silence? No, I refuse to believe that. It is an endless beach of purple sunsets and golden sunrises, glittering green glass seas with snow white crests, singing songbirds and gleefully galloping horses and huskies.

Today is about family, lasting memories and your impact on our lives. You are never forgotten, never reduced, never minimized. Always fondly, always missed, always adored.

Your nieces are the picture of beauty and happiness. We never had children ourselves, regretfully. Yet your spirit lives on through them and through your brother, sister-in-law, mother, aunt, and grandma, who are the most wonderful parents, grandmother (“grabba”), great-aunt, and great-grandma (“gi-gi”) in the world.

How do we go on without you? Your life was not supposed to end so soon. You were supposed to have so many more birthdays, anniversaries, holidays. Movies, concerts, meals, get-togethers, car-rides, conversations. Sleepless nights, painful days, disappointing doctor appointments, difficult obstacles, debt collector letters. Triumphant texts, daring dreams, miraculous recoveries, supportive friends. Loving embraces, longing voice mails, sweet nothings, sexy nighttimes, cozy comforts, and stalwart standing-by. Through thick and thin, for better or worse.

Til death do us part.

And it did. God help us it did.

We will never be the same. Our lives are changed for good.

I will never be the same. I’m everything I am, because you loved me.

And because I lost you.

I loved you.

I love you.

Always.

fairy on beach with moonscape

A Grief Observed, part 1

cs-lewis-grief-like-fear-quote

Preface

This is by no means an attempt to steal the thunder of C.S. Lewis’s work of the same title, which I have read and digested. He is an intellectually dense writer, yet in this particular work, as you would expect, a very raw humanness comes out. He still waxes philosophical, and theological, to be sure. But especially in the early stages, I found it very identifiable. Which is why I’d like to quote the first few lines, before proceeding.

No one every told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing. At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says.

-C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Part of this blog is going to focus on some excerpts from my own “grief journal”, as it were. Obviously, much of said journal is very private and only for me. Yet, my hope is that it may help someone else out there who may be suffering in their own grief and having trouble finding empathy.

Make no mistake, empathy is distinct here from sympathy. And a griever needs both. We need not only that comforting collective support system from our friends and family and loved ones; we also need that very specific, very isolated, and very unlikely person (or people) who has (have) experienced the same or similar trauma/loss. It’s perhaps most difficult, at the outset, to find and reach out to these people who can best empathize, because we feel that it’s “too soon” or “too raw” still. That even being in their presence or hearing them recount that loss will drive us to inconsolable sobs of sorrow and despair. And that may very well be, and that’s a perfectly valid excuse to avoid those people for a time. But we DO need them in our lives, at some point.

This is my attempt to be one of those people to you, if, god forbid, you have lost a spouse or partner. Know that you are not alone. There is hope. There are groups, there are people, and there are days when none of it will matter; but there are more days when it WILL matter. And on those days I hope you reach out, whether it’s to me or someone else in this immense yet small world. You will find your empathy person. Don’t give up.

~

First Night

I don’t sleep. I wonder where you are, when you will come back to me. Why this happened. It can’t be real. It’s a mistake. A bad dream. No. I toss and turn. The silence deafens. Kiera senses my restlessness. I cannot hold you. I stare at your picture, touching it softly. Why? You were just fine. We cuddled last night. I got up for work and kissed you and got you your drinks. I had some breakfast and started to work. You were having a hard pain day. You wanted to sleep til the afternoon. It was a normal day.

I need you. Your touch, your smell, your voice, your laugh. Why can’t I have you back? It’s not fair. I know you don’t feel any pain anymore. I know you don’t want me to either. But I do. I don’t know how to go on. What happens now? Where do I go? Can I sleep in our bed again? Can I even sleep at all?

I tried to eat something. Hot chocolate before bed was our tradition.. Not that you had it much but you always made sure I did, in our cold and cozy room. The food doesn’t taste like anything. It probably won’t stay down anyway. What would be the point?