A New Year

Thats the thing about time – it’s measured in every aspect.  Seconds, minutes, hours, days, years and so on.  That measurability also introduces an element of pressure.  Kevin died in 2015, so to those who didn’t know him, they might think ‘well it’s two years since he died, she should have it together by now.’  But it’s not like that.

Time doesn’t have the same measure for someone who is grieving.  The sorrow doesn’t erode over time, contrary to what I’ve been told over and over again.  Told, not by the counsellors in the grief group, nope, rather told by someone who may have lost a family member that wasn’t an intimate part of their everyday life. Someone they loved perhaps, but not someone they woke up with and to, and went to bed at the end of the day with.

So when you lose the normalcy of your life, especially after 31 years of marriage, it throws you off.  Yes, there is a new way of being but part of that new way is the very grief you carry with you.  I’ve realized that my grief is part of who I am and I accept it. I think most of those close to me know it too.

It may be a new year but my grief hasn’t been tempered or diminished over time.  On March 29th it will be two years since Kev’s death and it will still hurt as deeply as ever.  It doesn’t matter what the calendar says. When he died I lost part of me, a vital part, I suspect the best part.  I will learn to make do but I will never be the same – ever.

 

 

Time Marches On

It does, time just marches on, and as it does it just presses us forward, willing or unwilling.  I was thinking about my life and how I appear to be in a third chapter.  There was life before marriage, before Kevin; my teens into my early twenties, when I would wonder where life would take me.  Then, along came marriage and all it entails, and life truly happened.  Three kids, a husband, home, work – and all the chaos that came with it.  Busy times, full of plans and change.

Those two periods have now passed and I know that I am entering into another phase, but I am not sure how it will unfold.  Whether it will be long or short, full of change or unchanging.  It’s almost back full circle to when I was younger – when I wondered and worried about what was in store for me.  That time sandwiched in the middle, when Kevin was alive, seems so ideal to me now.  The good times and the not so good times have all blended into shared times, when I was on solid footing just by virtue of having him with me.

I have a dinner later this week with my ladies from the grief group and I plan on asking them about how they feel – whether they have the same perception of return to ‘beforeness’ that I have.  It’s different, of course, in that now I can look back and reflect on events and make decisions that are wiser based on my life experience. It’s the same though, since I am back to making those decisions on my own.

A Good Soul

This week is finally in the books.  Unfortunately in my scheduled return to work program my doctor had increased my working hours for this week.  When we’d done up the schedule I hadn’t really looked at the calendar, it had been a matter of blocks of time.  The first two weeks you work this many hours, the next two weeks increase to this many hours; that was how we had approached my return to work.  I hadn’t looked at the actual calendar, and even if I had, I likely would have thought ‘no problem, I can do this.’  I couldn’t though, and consequently I didn’t quite meet the increased hours.  I nearly got there.  I’ll try again next week and see if I can hit the target.

Every single day I woke up just as tired as when I went to bed.  It didn’t matter if I got four hours of sleep or eight, it just didn’t feel like enough.  The alarm would go off and it was almost unbearable to think about getting out of bed and going in to work.  There was just no motivation to do anything.  It was a week of a lot of reflection and thought about what happened and how quickly things changed.  There was a point – it was Wednesday – where I thought, this time last year we were oblivious to Kevin’s disease, a mere hour later I would be taking him to the hospital and that was when the crevasse opened and claimed my husband.

Try as I may to avoid dwelling on things I can’t change, I can’t change the fact that all I want to do is think about things I would do differently.  If I could.  I so wish that life offered do-overs.  That by some fluke we had of picked up on his disease when it was still treatable.  Lung cancer tends to fly under the radar until it is advanced stages, and it stayed true to this path in Kevin’s case.  He was so brave throughout his journey, which makes me feel so weak by comparison.  I don’t know if I could ever be as brave as him.  He was peace and love right to his last breath. My Kevin.

His was a good soul, a very good soul.

Time is a Four Letter Word

clockTime – a word I’ve heard often in the last month or so.  It seems to have some sort of magical connotation to it.  Everyone seems to believe that it is the answer to all my problems.  That time will magically take away the pain, bringing me comfort and joy.   I reject the concept of time as a healer.  Time cannot heal. The body can heal, the mind can heal, and they do as time passes.  Time is a measure; time can exist in a vacuum.  Events and things can and do occur through space and time, but time itself is not a catalyst for these things to occur.

Since Kevin died I have had people say to me variations of the following: ‘don’t worry, things can only get better, give it time’;  ‘time heals all wounds’; ‘it happens to everyone, it gets better over time’; or the feverish out-of-control statement – ‘shows you should live each day like it’s your last.’  There are dozens of trite statements like these.  When someone uses one of these lines in conversation with me, I pretty much shut down.  If you don’t know what to say then don’t say anything.  Friends and family, in my case, are not guilty of using these simplistic superficial expressions.  It’s the coworkers and acquaintances that use these statements to bridge the awkwardness associated with death.

I’m getting quicker at the shock responses now, which is a good indicator that my tolerance levels are low.  When people tell me not to worry I ask – how do you shut off, how do you do that, not worry?  With respect to living each day like it’s your last, actually for the first month after Kevin’s death that’s exactly what I did – because that was what I wanted.  That’s not a response that people expect and the conversation tends to end really quickly. I know that people are just trying to reach out and make a connection.  Sometimes I don’t want the connection; you know you can turn the light switch on as many times as you want, if the bulb’s blown, you won’t get any light. 

Recently I remembered a woman I worked with many years ago. She had been widowed at a fairly young age, mid-30s I believe, and had raised her son on her own.  She would have been in her 50s when I worked with her. We would talk about everything and anything. She told me that she never forgot, that for her, her husband was a part of who she was, and she carried that knowledge with her wherever she went. A hardworking woman, she had a pale tinge of something intangible about her, and in hindsight I recognize that this was her sorrow, the loss that made her who she was. It had been a tough go for her and not how she had thought things would turn out.  I wonder how often things do turn out exactly as they are supposed to?  There do seem to be some families that live under a golden glow; the sun and sky, the earth and the sea nourish and protect them. They do not know how fortunate they are.

“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”  (Rose Kennedy)

 

 

Sorrow

Another night and I find myself unable to sleep because I can’t stop crying.  I know that we are just embarking on the battle but the feeling of hopelessness sometimes is just too overwhelming.  Its hard to stay positive when things just seem to continue to decline.  I know that I need to take the lead and set the tone for the rest of the family but really it’s almost too much to bear.  We have a grandchild on the way and it should be the best and happiest of times for my daughter as she expects her first child, but it isn’t.  We are all painfully aware that there is a giant clock ticking someplace and at some point it will just run out — and then we have nothing.  We will have each other, but we will be missing one of the most important pieces.