Tuesday, September 08, 2009

September 8, 2009 Party Blues

I see how crazy I am.

I see it when I talk to people, when I'm snippy or panicky or even nice. I feel like I am just barely on this side of sanity.

I went the annual school picnic at Pallas and Ezra's school. 10 minutes before we left I sat on my bed, hands shaking, gulping big pockets of air. The tears came quickly and with them the release.

"I will be fine. It will be nice to see friends." I believe me. Then I gather my courage which grabs its own bag called "I don't have to talk to anyone I don't want to."

Crowds do that to me, meeting new people does that to me. I feel dread, alarm, and anxiety. And when I am finally in that crowd, it's as if I'm in this odd dream, with cotton in my ears and wrapped in gauze. I know what to say, how to act, how to answer the "How are you?" (accompanied with a gentle touch on the arm and giant cow eyes)

I know I answered. I have my own patented lines.

"We are doing alright."

"It's hard and it's liberating...I get order whatever I want on my pizza."
"It's weird to be a single mother, completely on my own."
"I can do so much on my own that I didn't think I could do."
"How are the kids?" they ask. Patented answers don't vary much:
"They're doing ok."
"Ezra is realizinng that Art is not coming back. He's a bit clingy. The other two seem fine."
"They are managing. Kids experience grief differently from adults."
And I know I said those things. I remember laughing. I remember smiling. I remember hiding from people I didn't want to talk to.
I remember it because it's like watching someone else's movie. I was the driver in this woman's head. I am not attached by emotion. It is my job to drive the bus, so I do. I do it expertly navigating the awkward moments, the silences, the stuck smiles.
When I get home, I am not sure I was even really there. It felt so distant all those grins, those hugs, those how are yous. What I do know is that I'm home now and safe in an environment that I can manage most of the time, even if things need to be just so in order for me to function, in order for me to hold it all together.
These walls, the familiar routines, the way the chair squeaks, the ring of the phone, even the people that show up at my door regulary all bring me comfort. Here I can walk away from the knife's edge. Out there, for now, I can't.


  1. In my early days of widowhood, I hated the questions of how we were doing. I soon figured out that people expected and only wanted me to say something like, "We're fine" or "It's been hard but we're hanging in there." I got so frustrated with it all that I started just telling people how I really was; "Terrible, miserable, grieving, distraught..." As bad as this now seems, it gave me a perverse kind of comfort to see people squirm with my honesty!

    I too, would hide from certain people I wasn't up to facing. I remember ducking behind boxes in Target and running into another aisle, walking past women and pretending not to see them... All the school functions (picnic, concerts, fun fair and the like) are particularly hard to face on one's own so soon after loss. As time goes by you get more used to it but it isn't easy - these events stir up so many emotions. Last year I sat in the bleachers alone watching my oldest play football with tears streaming down my face for the pride I felt and just wishing his Dad was watching with me.

  2. Anonymous12:58 PM

    I can't imagine how tough it is to answer the questions, "how are you?" "how are the kids?" I know I would be asking these questions with sincerity but when feeling like an aquaintance rather then someone immediately and consistently involved in your life, where else do you start? Questions that skirt the issue seem like avoidance and asking about how they're dealing with their missing sex life seem too personal. I'd love to hear your opinion about how you best appreciate those folks from school/sports/another state/etc.. and their support.

  3. Oh Julie such a good question! What do I want to hear as a widow? I don't know! It would be nice to hear someone acknowledge my grieving. "I know you are still in the thick of grieving. I don't want to ask you how you are doing becuase I don't want you to feel like you have to give me a patent answer. Just know that I care for you." And quite honestly the comment about a missing sex life would go over really well with me! I'd see that you considered death from different angeles, that you put some thougth into it and that counts for so much!

    Maybe a more experienced widow knows...ask Widow in the Middle!(click on her link!)