Busy, busy, busy. I am staying busy. I’m working full-time and in rehearsals, getting up around 5:15 a.m. and going to bed after 11 p.m. Which is okay because Grief Brain doesn’t like sleep anyway.
It goes like this: you’re wiped out, so much so that you can’t finish the sentence you’re trying to read. You keep falling asleep with a book in your hands, so you turn out the light and turn over and HEY! HI! I’M YOUR BRAIN ON GRIEF! I’M WIDE AWAKE. AND YOU? Hey, did you know you’re a widow now?! Your husband died alone in a hospital room because you weren’t there! You’re a bad mother! You’re never home, your house is a cluttered mess, and you’re six months behind on thank-you notes!
Or, one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Iris Dement writes
I’ve got no time to look at
I’ve got no time to see
The pieces of my heart
That have been ripped away from me
And if the feelings start to come in
I’ve learned to stop ‘em fast
I don’t know if I let ‘em go
They might not want to pass
The daily tsunami tear-fests have, for now, receded. They come about every four days or so, depending. I went through my week with only one “breakdown,” and it didn’t last long because I was on the way to work. I do not cry on the job, if I can help it. Too many generations of women have fought too hard for respect in the workplace for me to show up all weepy and needy.
I don’t mind crying. I learned on the cancer trek that weeping is a welcome and necessary relief valve that helps siphon off stress and pain. Life is bearable again after a good cry. Mostly bearable. Sometimes life just isn’t – and then it is.
There’s just so many people
Trying to get me on the phone
There’s bills to pay
Songs to play
A house to make a home
I guess I’m older now
And I got no time to cry
I do too much, and then I pay for it. And then I keep doing too much. A friend bought me a hammock, a really nice one. I’ve been in it about four times. It’s heavenly. But I never get outside for long enough to enjoy it.
Let’s chalk it up to “Not-The-Patient Residua,” which does not have a diagnosis code listed in the DSM-V, but it should. When Mark was walking his walk, I was on his heels constantly, entreating, nagging, coercing, working to make sure he ate well, rested, and took his meds on time. I was the biggest hypocrite on the planet because I was existing on mostly junk food, and not getting enough rest or exercise, forgetting to take my own medications, and knowing that “Some day, I’m gonna pay for this.”
Hello, Some Day. Hello, back pain, shoulder pain, leg pain, jaw pain, sinus pain, headaches.
All that pent-up stress is still working its way through my body/mind. Months – years – of worry and stress, hours spent in emergency room chairs, and surgery waiting rooms. The dread and the anxiety, the reality of everything witnessed and felt…. The situation is over, but the impact still rings.
I’m walking and I’m talking
Doing just what I’m supposed to do
Working overtime to make sure
That I don’t come unglued
I guess I’m older now
And I’ve got no time to cry
Keep breathing. Keep moving along. Stop, breathe, and try to absorb the reality that “just for today,” the boys and I are okay. The days and nights of watching Mark suffer, the endless worry about him, those days are done. I don’t have to be on guard duty. It really is okay to stop, to rest and to weep.
I feel overwhelmed by people and conversation, and need to retreat. I feel lonely and in need of good company. I feel everything. Then I feel nothing. Sometimes, I am inundated by emotion. Sometimes I am stuck in a place where emotions are so muted they’re like distant traffic noise, far away. And then suddenly, here comes the big truck, blasting its horn, and then I am in a heap in the weeds in a ditch at the side of the road wondering what the hell happened.
That’s just how it goes.
[Image from the Library of Congress collection: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/npcc.31229/]
[Iris Dement, http://www.irisdement.com]