A Question or Two

It’s odd how few people feel comfortable asking the things they really want to ask.  It takes a brave person to do so.  I mean, how often have you been in conversation with someone and in the back of your mind you have a question you would so love to ask, but you know it would likely be overstepping the bounds of good taste, privacy, or appropriateness, and so the question goes unspoken.

Interestingly, last week I had a conversation with a woman who dropped the pretence and asked me some of those questions.  It caught me off guard, but nevertheless, I answered her as best I could.  By way of background, she is married, does have children, and whether her marriage is ideal or not, I don’t know – I don’t  know her well enough.  Maybe that’s why she could ask me those questions.

She asked, “What do you miss the most?”  I answered, “A number of things, intimacy will always be high on the list, but there are so many other things.  Having a warm body to snuggle into when I am cold, exchanging a knowing glance about someone or something absurd, the warmth and banter of debate and discussion, silent companionship, having a reason to rush home … so many things.”

She asked, “What do you find the hardest.”  I answered, “Simply adjusting.  Sounds like a cop out but it’s not.  The adjusting never seems to stop.  I had to adjust to living alone, to living on less, to looking after everything – and I still am.  It all takes effort, and it gets tiring having to work at things especially when you don’t have the energy or inclination to do it.  The hardest thing for me has been adjusting: physically, mentally, emotionally.”

She asked, “Don’t you find it less stressful only having to worry about yourself?”  I answered, “It’s not that simple. I still worry about my family and friends.  I especially worry about my family; because I have had such an intense loss, it feels like at any time someone else could be wrenched from my life.  That sense of grief is indescribable, and as close to unbearable as anything I’ve ever faced.  So I do still worry.  Is it less stressful being on my own?  Sure, in some ways.  I don’t have to factor in another person’s views, needs, feelings, calendar.  It’s just about me, so that’s easier for sure, but I don’t consider this a glamorous or desirable state, because I didn’t ever want to be here.”

She asked, “Would you ever join a dating site?”  I answered, “If you are asking –  have I joined one, then the answer is no.  And, for the future, I can’t see me joining one.  Right now I’m not looking for a relationship, and I have plenty to keep me busy.  I’ve heard so many stories, and from people I know, about the predators on those sites, chatting you up and then asking for cash.  It just isn’t worth it for me.  I know that there are some good, strong relationships that can come out of them and so they serve a purpose for some, but just not for me.”

She asked a few more questions but the conversation ended pretty soon after with me gently admonishing her.  “The grass isn’t always greener – just like the saying goes.  I bet your life is a little chaotic right now and by comparison mine looks pretty good.  But trust me, I’d give so very, very much to have that chaos back.  Don’t wish your time and love away.”

And I didn’t cry once through the whole conversation.

A New Day

Things have changed at my house; good things fortunately.  It’s been 17 months since Kevin died and since then I had elected to stay in the house and live by myself.  Whether that was the right thing to do, or perhaps it wasn’t the best thing to do, doesn’t really matter.  It was a choice I made and it brought me to this point.

At this point, things have now changed.  My house is full of energy and life again.  My daughter, her fiancé and their 18 month old have now moved in.  Actually, I suggested it.  The timing was right.  The real estate market here has gone silly, with prices that were way beyond what a house should sell for.  So, I thought, why not see if they could sell their house and capitalize on the market.  No harm really.  They could afford their house, it was a bit small, but a good house, but they could also see if there was interest in buying it.  If they could make a good profit on it, why not.  They could move in with me until the market corrects, and then the money they make will go a bit farther.  A good plan I thought, it just depended on whether the house sold or not.

It sold alright, in one day.   Craziness!  They had a viewing before it even hit the market.  Only three weeks to closing date, which, with a small child, is quite the push.  They managed though and now are residents of the family homestead.  There will be some growing pains as we get used to each other, but that’s to be expected.  There will be some adjustments for me, yikes, old girl that I am, I forgot what it is like to have a toddler around.  Baby goes to bed and we whisper, no matter what room we are speaking in, we whisper.  We could be in the garage and still speak in hushed voice, Lord knows we don’t want to wake the little man child up.

It’s not forever, it’s just for now.  I think a year ago I wasn’t ready.  I needed to face my loneliness as well as my needs.  To do some hard thinking, preferable to avoid, but necessary on a multitude of levels.  And writing, wow I have written out my thoughts throughout the months that have passed.  As I got the house ready to welcome the kids,  I found steno pads, index cards, notepads; any blank writing sheets, I filled them up.  I don’t recall writing half of them, but I did date and number them all.  There are whole weeks of time that I know better than to look at, I wasn’t in a good place.  Likely it will be years before I revisit those thoughts.

I am glad to have some activity back in the house.  Glad to hear voices other than my own and those on the darn television.  Happy to have people to just coexist with, especially ones I love.  So I will enjoy it for now.  Hopefully it will work out fine for the duration, but what will be will be.  When the time is right they will move into their own home again, which they need to do and are already planning.  I think though of how hard Kevin tried to get them to move in with me as he got sicker and sicker.  I wouldn’t hear of it, I didn’t want them to see me at my lowest, hell, I didn’t want to even be in my own skin then.  Kevin was so worried about me and was still trying to take care of me even after he was gone.  Funny how it turned out.  He would be pleased.

 

My Screensaver is Death

Truly it is.  The screensaver on my computer at work is about death.  It is a visual of a small child in a state of despair overwritten with a message about speeding and those we leave behind because of our irresponsible behaviour.  Death is not written out as a word, but the innuendo, the unspoken, is about loss – DEATH.

I work for a large organization with thousands of employees.  I work at the main office and my computer is part of the centralized network.  In the last week someone in authority okayed the use of the screensaver as a broadcast mechanism to relay this message.  Ticks a box of sort I suppose.  I don’t go to work to think about death, dying, loss or any of that stuff.  I do that well enough on my own, especially this week.  The last week of March brings what would have been my anniversary; it also marks one year since Kevin’s death.  Needless to say, I am thinking about death a lot.  Work provides a distraction where I can immerse myself in activities that take my mind off of death, loss, dying – all those sad and sorrowful thoughts.  At least it did.

After the first day or so of “the message”, I emailed our technical department to politely ask to have it removed from my workstation.  It is upsetting, morbid and, personally, I find it quite stressful.  Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad if it only popped up first thing in the morning, but it doesn’t.  It pops up all throughout the day; every time I lock my screen, whenever I don’t utilize the computer and it is dormant up pops that screensaver.  Unlike a television channel I don’t have the option to turn it off or make it go away.

I have learned over the last few months that there are triggers that can start a downward spiral.  I know, for example, that if I go into Kevin’s art room I will invariably cry.  I may choose to go into the room but I don’t have to if I don’t want to.  When I do, I accept the consequences of my actions, I am prepared.  Mentally prepared; I either steel myself emotionally because I want to work in the room, or I may open myself up because I feel the need to be close to my late husband.  At the end of the day I have a choice.  This silly little screensaver does not give anyone a choice – you can’t hit escape to get rid of it.

My request to the technical department was acknowledged but identified as a low priority item – for them.  For me it is not.  How dare they take away my safe space!  I found myself so angry this morning when I had to go in and face that messaging yet again.  I had a meltdown and ended up with my manager at my desk telling me she’d do the best she could to remedy the situation. Admittedly I am a bit out of sorts and I knew I’d have a tough week, but work had factored in as part of the solution to getting through this time, not as part of the problem.  The busier I am the faster the time goes; I am using the head down and get through it approach.

I don’t need a screensaver to serve as a touchstone to loss, sorrow, sadness.  Really, who does?  Does the employer think that the employees feel good and positive after viewing this message? For the normal person it’s a downer, for me it’s an emotional brick they keep throwing at me.  Truthfully, I am strung so tight right now, I feel if I have to face that message again tomorrow morning I may just head back home.

 

A Migraine

That’s what I woke up to in the middle of the night.  Two thirty in the morning and an intense pounding pain in my head woke me up.  It was one of those headaches, if you’ve ever had a severe headache, where I could hear the blood rushing through my veins, hear and feel my heart beat.  It hurt more to lie down than it did to sit up.  Sit up in the dark because the light hurt my eyes too much.

I haven’t had a migraine for a long time now.  I suffered with them before in the past, but literally when Kevin got sick, most of my ailments went away.  It was like I didn’t have time for them anymore.  A lot of things happened when Kevin was diagnosed.  Shock does crazy things to people, for me, I literally went through menopause.  Not long and drawn out for me, nope, I was done completely as of that moment in June of 2014 when we heard the words “you’ve got advanced cancer”.  Last night’s migraine was a surprise to me, I thought that they’d been banished forever too, but evidently I got that wrong.  Fortunately I had my meds, although expired, I’d kept them and ended up taking three doses before I settled the thing down.

I’m not really surprised by the migraine, things have been building up as I get closer to the one year anniversary of Kevin’s death.  I find that I am crying almost every day, small things set me off.  I’ve got no interest in going out or doing anything.  It’s even a push to sit down here and write out my thoughts.  I’m not eating great, not sleeping well; all of these things are likely contributors to the migraine.  I imagine myself right now as a plane that is trying to land but bouncing from wheel to wheel, precariously off balance. I don’t have confidence that I can land without some sort of damage.  That’s how I feel, off balance, out of control.

There’s no magic answer or proven coping techniques that I can use to get through this.  I have great family and friends all around me, but I am afraid that for these next couple of weeks we are in parallel but separate worlds.  I know that they are there, but I am in a different space altogether. I am back in the world of loss and sorrow, flying through a mist made of tears.  Not a journey I’d wish on anyone.

 

It’s a Narrow Path Out of this Darkness

I can feel the tension building as I get closer to the end of the month.  It will be a year on the 27th.  One year ago we got the news.

I find that as the day approaches the build-up is immense.  Almost unmanageable.  I feel a sensation similar to that of a plane sitting on the tarmac waiting to take off.  Engines pulsing and throbbing as more and more energy courses through, building to a momentum and intensity that will make the impossible possible.  Unlike the plane, however, I won’t fly when I hit capacity – I’m more likely to crash and burn.

I am aware of how tightly strung I am. Getting through this week may mean withdrawing a bit.  Sometimes the thoughts in my head are too hard to explain and the feelings too raw to reveal.  It’s easier to shrink into the background; it’s less demanding.

So there’s nothing to be done about it.  Just get through the week and hope the next one is better.  That’s pretty much how it has been going for the last few weeks anyway.  It’s a narrow path out of this darkness and the ground can often give way, leaving me scrambling for a foothold again.  Then I get back up on my feet and try and refocus.   Groundhog Day.