Grief makes for emotions so tangled that they prevent coherency. These emotions are the ones most desperate to be fully realized and acknowledged. This makes for Mental Frustration, with the capital M.F.
The situations and feelings that I can’t coherently explain or express follow me around like big, sad, wet, stinky dogs longing to be petted. This is the very stuff that needs airing out in therapy rooms and grief groups. Now that RUTH is off and running, I can do that. During rehearsals, I held off committing to anything that required another night from home, or time away from the theater, knowing that – with the good as with the bad – “this too shall pass.”
It’s time now. I can do this.
But it’s so much easier to isolate, stew in misery, not feel, not process, not cope. Easier now. Hell to pay tomorrow.
And speaking of…. Tomorrow will be another Thursday, the one that marks twelve weeks since I woke up and didn’t follow my instincts, didn’t call into work, didn’t get in the car, and didn’t drive straight to the hospital.
Well hey, there’s one of those big stinky dogs, right there.
I did not go the hospital that morning because of fears about money. Mark worried constantly that he would leave us with “nothing,” and had always been adamant that I should work as much as possible. But in those last weeks and days, he had changed. He stopped telling me to go, and started asking me to stay longer. On daily visits, he would grasp hold of us, the boys and me, and hold on tightly.
Mark did not have himself and I did not have my husband as himself for a while before he died. Our relationship was not our relationship, but something born of the New Normal. Mark was The Patient, and I was the Not The Patient, the caregiver. So when I grieve him, I am grieving Mark as himself, who has been gone for much longer than twelve weeks, and also the dear Patient.
Yesterday, I got to see him. I was standing at my car in the parking lot of my church. He was there as I turned to walk into the building, for just a flash, a moment, just behind me to my left, like a shadow, cipher. In that instant, whatever exists between this place and where he is, was, for one single moment, cleared away like smoke.
Whether or not it really happened doesn’t matter. I needed him, and he came. My thoughts were troubled yesterday and my heart very, very heavy. And then, I was allowed to see him. Whether it was a trick of sunlight and shadow or a moment of Grace, an attempt by the Divine Whatever to reassure me, or my mind’s attempt to reassure itself that Mark is still present in my life and “just over there” does not matter. It helped a little. When I left the church a few hours later, a mockingbird, a very young one, showed up. It landed on a fence close by, and then led the way to the parking lot.
It makes some sense that all this happened at church. I was just the other day telling a friend that when I need to experience Mark’s presence, the first place that I think of is the sanctuary of our church. Mark designed and built the altar stage there. It’s a beauty of a design, strong, smart and very thought-out, and not a little ingenious. Mark was rightfully proud of it. So, he’s there, in his creation, very present. I can barely stand being in there some days, the pain of his loss is so great. But some days, it’s the only comfort spot that I have.
And as it turns out, I have a good reason to be there nearly every day this week.
Today is Wednesday. It is not Thursday yet. Thursday comes soon enough.