Today, it was all about anger. Tension, frustration, outrage. Anger’s easier. You cry less. You don’t feel sad so much as this roiling, boiling “How COULD you…(fill in the blank)?!”
I try to just float with it. I’ve swung from angry to ANGRY, and back to center, then one, then the other. It doesn’t help to give the bird to the ceiling, or the sky. Not much past that instant, anyway.
It was surprisingly satisfying to shove the box containing his ashes to the back of the messy, disorganized closet that he hated and shut the door.
No need for specifics as to the why. Why doesn’t matter, not much. The problem is absence. Absence means unanswered questions. FOR ALL TIME. Things come up, shit happens, mysteries unfold – and Mark’s not here to help deal with it. He’s not here to thrash it out. I can be a relentless asker of WHY, digging and prodding and shaking. That won’t work anymore. It’s like, he has the last word. Forever.
Even if there’s some as-yet unknown and undiscovered Book of Mark, it’s still not him, living and breathing and thinking and responding. And for reading his journals, as my friend Robin says, “Do not ever read my journals. Journals are toilet paper for my brain.”
So. Things happen. Stress is high. You’re already operating in the red zone. You need answers! You need relief! Where do you find relief when the person who has the answers that you need is AWOL? Answer: you don’t.
Cancer. The gift that keeps on taking.
Before cancer, Mark and I were good at fighting. We prided ourselves on our ability to push through an argument and come out on the other side feeling like we had won. We stuck with it, hashing things out until we got through to the other side. We had basic rules. No storming out. No name-calling. No throwing things… Well, not at each other.
After cancer, fighting was difficult. We were both too stressed, afraid of pushing too hard. Disagreements lingered uncomfortably. I remember going to bed angry one night, and thinking “Uh-oh. I shouldn’t be doing this,” but feeling too worn-out to get up and push through. Even if I had gotten back up for round two, no guarantee that Mark could reciprocate. In the last year, we had one good fight. I don’t even remember what it was about now, but it helped to clear the air. Mark said just having the fight was good, the two of us daring to “go there” helped him feel hopeful, like we could be normal again. Normal in the new normal. Not normal.
Since October 2011, Mark had very, very few good days. He was physically stronger than he had been after his first major hospitalization and rehab, but the worsening treatment side-effects, and the drugs needed to combat them, often made him dizzy, fatigued and confused. In his final months, the severe speech impediment caused by the tumor and the radiation damage made an extended conversation – much less a good cleansing fight – impossible.
Someone, in some article about grief (Grief Brain – can’t remember where I read it) wrote about the deep yearning that one feels for the lost person. There is the chasm of lost love and intimacy, and without a doubt, it is a chasm. But there is also the loss of day-to-day living.