No Time To Cry

"Grief"

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]

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About Vicki Caroline Cheatwood

Writerly. Rebooting. Evolving. Searching for great chicken salad.
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15 Responses to No Time To Cry

  1. I think of you often Vicki. I’d love to read the story of how you came upon the above photo of Grief. It really is quite wonderful.

  2. In the meanwhile, go get a physical. I know many, many women whose life paths paralleled yours, and they didn’t get themselves to docs because they were exhausted, stressed, and sick of doctors’ offices. And paid even higher prices than the one you’re paying now. I’m NOT being a downer, I’m offering very sane advice.

    • Trying to work up the courage to do just that. I’ve got a big wall of resistance built up between me and any place with a waiting room where anyone with an M.D. after their names might be doing business. A check-up is necessary, I know. I just have to find the courage to do it for myself – without a crisis mindset attached.

      • Ashley Garrison says:

        You remind me alot of my mom after my dad died. I was the age of your boys when it happened. We didnt go through what you did (my dad committed suicide), but I saw my mom fall apart for a long time….and I know it seems like it never gets better. But it will. Promise.

      • Would that I were wherever you are, I’d take you there and hold your hand and offer you ice cream afterwards. Think of it as an investment.

  3. Nancy Cheatwood Ellis says:

    You know what…I think there really are no grief rules so good news there. You (we: all of us who mourn) don’t have to be the perfect mourners because there are no rules. And please, let’s not make any….I kind of like being all over the road right now, it feels right somehow.

    • Well put. That’s exactly how I feel — all over the road, and pretty-much fine with it. Most of the time. To use a favorite Robert Earl Keen analogy, “like going 60mph and then just chucking the steering wheel out the window.” He was talking about his 8-second bull riding career (“that’s four bulls at two seconds a piece”), but still….

  4. Marianne Galloway says:

    Love.

  5. dehelen says:

    Hello someone who lives near Vicki, make that doctor appt with/for Vicki while she stands by with her calendar and you yours. Then go with her to the doc so you can entertain her in the waiting room. That is what I would do if I didn’t live 2100 miles away, I promise. So if you (the friend of Vicki who lives near her) have a friend near me in Portland that you want me to do the same for here, I will. Let me know.
    Vicki, thank you so much for continuing to include me/us on your journey. I love you, I’m sending love. I say forget the thank you notes. Everyone knows you’re grateful. xoxo

  6. Lulu says:

    Vicki, I marvel at your ability to write about this so candidly and beautifully. You are such an amazing writer. I love your plays, I love your stories. Thank you for sharing this time with us, your journey and your gift. We are in this with you, Vicki-chan. I love you! <3<3<3

  7. cadyetx says:

    It is so important to keep yourself healthy. Weird, but true. Studies show (Nerd-speak for, “you can believe this) that, generally, about 3 months after a life-altering event (death, move, new job, baby, etc) people tend to get sick. It’s like the body says to itself, “OK, if I can just get through this, I will make it.”. And then you do make it through and your body days to itself, “OK, I can get sick now.”. So, when you get that summer cold that totally sucks, relax! It means that you made it through.

  8. Lorie M says:

    Love you, dear. Keep writing. If I could take my appreciation for your writing and transmorf it into something that provided you tangible comfort, I would!

  9. Keep crying. Be a militant crier. Cry in the car, in the shower, at work, at rehearsal, at church, at the bank, in front of your boys, when you’re alone, and with your friends. There are some stress hormones that only leave the body through tears.

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