They say grief comes in waves, yesterday was a big wave.
It was a hard day. As fate would have it, I was alone most of the day as Devin was visiting a friend and that was probably for the best as it allowed me space to deal with issues and emotions unfettered.
I had taken the day off from work because I had to call social security and the hospital and several other entities that can take up more than a lunch or ten-minute break would allow. It was also the day of Ted’s cremation and I felt like it might be a harder day and work wasn’t the place to process those emotions.
I couldn’t have been more right. The finality of it hit hard. It was so akin to the same feelings I had when Mom died and they closed the casket. I can remember feeling that my connection was somehow severed when that casket was closed. To not be able to see Mom again – even her dead body was comfort to me – and to have her closed away was too much. I honestly remember thinking that given the option, I would have had her stuffed and put somewhere that I could at least see her and have her near. That same feeling washed over me yesterday in the knowledge that Ted’s body was now also gone to me.
Just like when it happened with mom, the tears flowed. The hurt and pain of the loneliness were palpable. Spiritually, I know I don’t need the presence of a body to be connected, but viscerally, I want the face to look at, the arms to hold, and the touch and smell of the person. I wonder if tears flow so that the uncontrolled part of ourselves emits what we cannot say, and joins the atmosphere where we are so loved, and thus somewhere deep inside we know the flow of connection is still strong and always will be. Anyway, that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.
Oh, and just so you know, lots of tears can be generated and sent down the cheeks while on hold with the social security office. Time well spent.
There will be more hard days, but that one is behind me. The sun will be up soon with a new promise of life to be seen, experienced, wondered about, and enjoyed.
The Happy News was when I received a call from Galen’s girlfriend, so excited to relay that they had just been out to dinner and Galen had proposed marriage and she had said yes. They are such a wonderful couple and we are delighted. She was the very first friend that he had ever invited over to our house when they were both in kindergarten. They were not close all of the way through school, as friendships can ebb and flow in those years, but they reconnected a few years back and it is wonderful news.
The sad news was that my friend Judy had died. It wasn’t a surprise, but then that doesn’t lessen the loss. I had called the previous Thursday and left a message that I was thinking of her. A few minutes later, my phone rang and it was her number. Her sister was on the line and explained that Judy really couldn’t speak, but wanted Audrey to call me back. She had me on speaker phone so that Judy could hear both sides of the phone conversation and Audrey would answer for Judy when the questions were asked. We all got caught up in this three way communication with only two voices, talking of life and events, even though we all knew there wasn’t much left of it, in this realm, for Judy. She was frail and could not manage to get around much. Sips of water were all that her body now desired and without nourishment, she was in the stage where sleep was more common than wakefulness. We all knew it would be the last time I would speak with my friend yet when it came time to say goodbye, the flood of emotions filled my vocal cords and all I could say was that I loved her. Why is it that words fail when you need them? There was so much emotion and so many memories flooding my body, the the voice was lost in it all. I did follow up with a message the next day that I may as well share: “Judy,
I hope this text arrives while you still have the desire to even read one. I feel like there is a slowing happening to you and your body. One that could have the feeling that maybe the rest of the world is just too busy and fast for you now. I wonder if it is like sitting on the deck where there is the slightest of breezes that almost feels non-existent, yet out in the yard, the wind chime rings with fervor or the wind flower is spinning madly. Your are the one quiet soul on the deck and the world is that wind flower – whirling a speeds that seem impossible from your current view. Yesterday, when it came time to say goodbye, I had no words. It was as if all of the years of experiences we had together suddenly flooded the space between us. The shared times, the laughs, the tears, the talks, the years. It felt to me that suddenly all of those moment hung between us and the only words left were that I loved you. I wish I could have said more in that moment, but the air was so full of memories that it felt like it was better to let that play through my heart and brain and pray that you too felt that volume, than to voice something that would seem to lessen or stop the flow of all of those moments. I cherish the long and short moments we have shared and know that I will rely on them when you are gone from my view. I also feel that while you lose the body, we will not lose your presence. I thank you now for the essence you will still provide to the many of us later. I thank you for your friendship and I thank you for the gift of time in the call yesterday. I will be praying for a gentle transition from this life to the next. I love you.”
I feel like no matter what I would have said, that those emotions were shared and she felt them with or without the words as well. That is my wish anyway.
I managed through the week fairly well juggling the happy and sad news until Friday. The day began with the wave of the feeling of loss that happens as is prone to occur as one deals with grief. It was the high tide in the wave series. One of the younger sales guys got me talking and I spilled that I was sad for the loss of a friend, but quickly added the good news also received of Galen’s engagement (they all know Galen from when I’ve had him help at work) The sales guy immediately got up to give me a hug. I tried to stop him, as I knew that any genuine kindness and sympathy would bust the protective bubble that was imaginary around me. Not taking no for an answer, he enveloped me in a long hard needed hug. True to prediction, it tore through the thin veil and I began to cry. The problem with a small rip when there is pressure behind it, is that it opens up to a gaping tear before it can be stopped. Thus was my day – trying to patch a seam that no longer had good edges to sew. I had friends checking up on me and again, it would bring up the tears. I almost wanted someone to be mean to me so that I could build up the protective field around me once more.
I finally took some moments and let myself feel all of the emotions and put names to them. Ever notice that when you feel overwhelmed and stop to actually feel each emotion and name them, that they loose their punch? Something about calling out the emotion that makes it loose it’s power. I could still fell the sadness, but once I named the sadness, then gratitude came in and shook hands and the two together were like friends who could now share in the loss.
I know the waves will still come and go. I’ve lost loved ones before, but I also know that they will never leave my heart and therefore are not gone at all.
Today a very dear friend learned that they will be saying goodbye to one of their beloved dogs tomorrow. It has had me tearing up all day. Partly because I know how hard it will be to say goodbye for my friend and partly because it is hard not to think that we will have to do the same sometime soon.
I know there are folks out there who don’t care for dogs or are fearful of them but for many of us, a dog is the companion who always has a smile, an untold story in those loving eyes and a wag to let you know they care.
They sense our moods but don’t match the occasional negative emotions with their own and it has even been shown that they can move us beyond deep emotional pain.
There are programs that match service veterans with dogs to help with their post traumatic stress disorder. It is shown that dogs can create the bridge helping children with autism connect and improve social skills. The array of service dogs for all types of needs is getting to be nearly endless.
They get you out walking and connecting with nature when you might not think you had the time otherwise.
Sure, they can drive you nuts and make you laugh, but what family member doesn’t.
The space they fill in your life is not measured by the size of the animal. When they are gone, you realize the energy that filled the entire room when they were with you was wall to wall and floor to ceiling.
My friends have shared a good many years with this loveable beast and can say goodbye with hearts filled with the joy and memories of how great he was to be part of their family.