Sunday, August 29, 2010

Act of Faith


Friday, August 27th
I put Langston and Pallas on a bus today to attend Camp Erin, a weekend camp for grieving kids.
I drive away before the bus does.
And on the 10 heading west, in traffic (thankfully) I cry.
Putting them on a bus is..

an Act of Faith.

Faith that they will come back to me. Faith that I will not have to go and identify their crushed bodies at some retched morgue. Faith that they will come back to me as whole as they left me and hopefully full of an experience that will leave them more emotionally capable.

Every time I put them in a car with the sitter, a friend or drop them at camp, it’s...

an Act of Faith.

I know death. I watched it come and take Art. I know death needs no reason, it just comes when it wants.

My husband’s no longer life if proof of that or I can just turn on the news.
---
Saturday, August 28th
I wake up and death is in the house.
I feel it and it creates a vacuum. I’m afraid to either exhale or inhale for fear of the realization of what? That the day is not what it seems to be in my morning haze. Like the days upon days after Art died.

I fear my lack of control. I fear that two of my kids are not here, under my pretend “protection.” The protection I believe is mine to offer and dole out as need.

I suck in air hoping I will look back on today, even tomorrow and smile at my silly fears. At my need for faith in order to let them go.

And my friends brush it off, “Of course you have to let them go!” they say. Having no experience with the closeness of death, they don’t see it, sitting there, resting and watching.

Yes I know I have to let them go, but every time I do it, the urge to place my hands on their arms and bribe them to stay with a video game, their favorite dinner or ice cream rises. Sometimes strongly, most of the time represented only by a tiny yelp.

Ezra stirs next to me and I know if it were not for him, I could not bare being in this house that is as quiet and shaky as the days after Art died. The house feels airless, the sunny day false. I feel as if I am inside this bubble, unable to hear or touch and see things as they really are, just like after Art died.

I sneak out of bed, trot off to the bathroom and look at myself in the mirror

“Happy Birthday,” I smile at myself. I’m 46 today. It’s an...

Act of Faith

that I believe I will get to my 47 birthday.

I crawl back into bed and lift the covers to see Ezra’s chest rise and fall, reassuring me that it will continue to do so. His breathing grounds me, pushes the hysteria away.

---
Wednesday, August 25
As the driver is transporting the kids and I to the airport, an 18 wheeler gets cut off by a little black Mazda, the truck weaves into our lane, our driver weaves onto the shoulder next to the concrete divider. We are all moving, us wedged and I see the truck begin to jack knife and then

it corrects itself.

Other than a few “Oh God’s” I am steady and calm. After the moment passes, I remember it’s...

an Act of Faith

to expect we will all get home to LA in one piece. An act of trust and an act of ignorance.
--
Art and I once had a discussion how parents practice acts of faith every time they drop their kids off at school. His job was to make sure, to the best of his ability, that the faith is renewed every afternoon when those parents come back to get their children. He reminds me how ballistic parents get when that faith is shattered.

Since he has died, I know what death really is: random, disjointed, the essence of unpredictable. I feel how unprotected I am from those random, disjointed, unpredictable accidents. The kind that leaves those who hear about them shaking their heads.

And some days I rub it off of me like a few specks of white fluff on my black sweater and other days I wear it like a lead jacket.

I keep committing Acts of Faith. It’s easier to do when I am engaged, and busy. But on those days where I allow myself to be idle, where I allow a moment to see through all the doing, the

Acts of Faith

scare the bejeezus out of me.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Other People's Grief



I’m back east with my family; one of my sister’s, her husband and kids, my mom and her husband (both widows) and my aunt and uncle. Cousins, another aunt, a step sister and her husband will arrive tomorrow.

Tonight I saw it on them.

In their eyes. In the way they looked at me.

I saw their grief.

Other people dealing with the loss of…. my husband.

Other people…. missing him.

Other people… tearing up over him.

Other people’s grief.

Before today, I had not noticed.

My grief was a full time job, that seems to have, a few months ago, turned into a part time position with some harrowing, surprising “breaks.”

I see that they are not used to seeing me without him.

I hear about how they catch themselves.

“We’re going to see Kim and…..” sigh.

I hear “For a while, I lost faith in God. I stopped praying after he died.”

Other people’s grief.

They miss him too. They think about him too. They shake their heads in disbelief. They wish it happened … not me.

And their grief pains me. I want to make it go way. Those sighs, those eyes, that moment of silence. I want to make their hearts happy and fill them with light.

And I think I’m looking into a mirror.

I think about those people and so many others who miss Art…still. Who cry that he is no longer here, who stopped believing in God for a little while when he died, who can’t understand how this could happen.

And I think about those people and all the others who have watched me: hollowed eyed, confused, overwhelmed, frightened and came to witness my grief even though all they wanted to do was to suck it from me with a giant titanium straw.

I cry. Not for myself. Not for Art.

But for those people and all the others who still miss him. For those people and all the others who still talk about him, who go to call him and then remember…

I cry because I see their grief and

it

pains

me

almost wild with helplessness.

Just as my grief must have (does) pain them.

I am humbled by those people and all the others who are still here, after witnessing such pain, they are still here.

My family and

all those other people

are my family.

I love you.

You are the reason I know there is a God.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Before or After?



Did Art die before or after Pallas hit five feet?

Did he die before I bought the new underwear or after?

Was he alive when Google offered that new earth maps feature?

Was I friends with her before or after Art died?

Was he alive when Langton said __________ or Ezra did ______?

Before or after?

This is the new question I’ve been asking lately.

And most of the time I can’t remember. And it surprises me.

Not so much in the asking of it but in my inability to answer it and in the fact that not being clear is so much a part of moving on. The little details of our life together is losing its color.Not being clear is also disheartening.

And with my inability to answer the questions, he fades into the background just a little bit more. I lose him every time I can’t remember if it was before or after he died.

He gets fuzzy like I’ve had too much to drink.

In that fuzziness, I grow anxious and scared and sad and disappointed that my life is this one. A life that is trying to wrap itself around the fact that he is never, ever coming back.

In that fuzziness I become exhilarated and joyful and find strength as I claim this new life that is opening up before me and is filled with a more dynamic, wiser, YAHOOY me.

My life:
…clear and fuzzy.
…with Art, without him.

April 16, 2009 was the last day he made an impression and its’ starting to fade.

There is ease in that knowledge.
There is sadness in that knowledge.

And I again re-learn, remember and prove to myself that opposite emotions can exist in the same thought.

Did I learn that before or after he died?

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Grief-in-Action


video

I'm here at Camp Widow in San Diego.
I videotaped the room full of us widows clapping.
And now that I am trying to post it, I'm not sure it's working.
Frustration is on my shoulders, my wrinkled brow and scrunched up eyes.
After an hour of searching and trying solutions, I don't know if any of them will work and I feel
defeated and completely

unable to cope.

Unable to cope. Words that came out of my mouth daily in the beginning. I couldn't cope with getting dressed or making a decision, like what time should Lori come get Ezra? Deciding what time I needed to start dinner to have it on the table by 6:30 not only alluded me, but I didn't even understand how other people went about making such decisions so quickly and easily. I felt crazy. I was crazy. Crazy with grief.

Then as the hysteria lowers (like month 9 or 10 after his death) and as a new normal creeps in (1 year and 1 month) I feel like coping is in the bag, checked off the list, mastered!

Normal feels normal.

And Oh MY! What was that? I feel like the new Kim has not only risen but has no intention to burst into flames again any time soon

until

things outside of the new normal happen. New things like posting a video to a blog.

As I search for solutions to the video issue, I can't sort out what the websites are telling me.
I reread the same sentences over and over and over again thinking that on the next read, I will get it, knowing that I should be able to understand it.

Confusion rises. (What are they telling me to do) then frustration (Why aren't these directions clearer?) then anger, first at the directions but really now it's at myself. My unable to think is grief-in-action.

Six months after Art died, I decided to bake a cake. I read the directions, line by line, gathering the ingredients on the counter. I would read "2 eggs," get to refrigerator, open it and then forgot what I was supposed to be getting. So I would go back to the recipe, read "2 eggs," reach for the refrigerator and forget again. My brow furrowed, my lips scrunched up and my shoulders tightened, I had to admit this was grief at it's worse. This was the grief that no one sees. This was grief-in-action!

And it is in that memory, right now, that has my confounded and a bit put off. Grief? It's been a year and 3 months, for goodness sake and

now I am laughing!

1 year is nothing in the grief land. One year is enough time to come down from the hysteria, maybe establish some kind of normal. It's NOT enough time to establish a new coping ability to handle the rest of the stuff like missed flights and uploading videos to a blog.

And I'm here, 21 floors above 150+ widows who totally 100% get that. So I'm leaving the video. I hope it works. If not, I'll work on it:

when I'm not under a time pressure,
when I have the space to think
when I have soaked up all
the goodness
and okayness
and support
and REAL widow normalcy
that comes from hanging out with a bunch of people who
unequivocal
get
this mess
called
grief.

That is when I will figure the darn video out

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Content




On vacation with the kids in Ixtapa, Mexico. My financial struggle having just ended.

Not sure what to write about it. After all the months, (years really) After ALL these months of anger, sadness, resentment, hopelessness, joy, surprise, discovery, light, regret and hope, I find myself at odds with ……dare I call it, contentment.

I’m not sure. I don’t feel overjoyed to be here. I don’t feel sadness either. I’m not worried (other than Langston is not feeling to hot and we’d need a translator if we were to see a doctor). I don’t need anything. I don’t need alcohol or drugs or a distraction. I don’t feel like I need a man. (Club Med does a most excellent job, though, at hiring these 21-30 year old pieces scrumptious eye candy!)

I feel nothing. I don’t feel dead inside. I just feel at peace and it’s startling. And I wonder is this what normal feels like?

Before his illness and before his death I spent much of my time in my head, scared, worried, putting a negative spin on the future. I spent much of the time trying to prove myself, trying to live up to the person I thought all these people expected me to be. My expectation being way beyond what anyone wanted. My expectation for perfection was impossible. It was murderous and it almost killed me several times.

Here in this place, sitting in an outdoor patio in Ixtapa, listening to the waves, the wind whipping my hair around and bringing in the nightly rain storm, I find myself calm. It’s unfamiliar and it’s uncomfortable. Like a new hair cut and every time I walk by a mirror I am surprised because I expect to see the old me.

I have spent the week doing nothing, a 100% complete impossibility before Art died. I tried to work. I tried to get the kids to eat vegetables. Andthen I didn’t know why I was making myself or them do it. I had no words of judgment wagging in my head so I let them eat ice cream, a lot of it and put my computer away.

Instead, I entered an archery competition and end up DFL (dead fucking last) and still talked trash to the others in the competition. I told the kids I lost and saw their puzzlement at my not caring. I butchered the Spanish language multiple times a day! I kayaked, I rock climbed, I did yogalates and swam in the ocean. I napped, I read and I napped again. I ruined and brand new bathing suit with the fine gritty sand of Ixtapa and some sunscreen. I discovered the joy in having a glass of wine, late at night in the reception area where I can listen to the soothing music and the ocean waves and just think about … nothing.

And it’s the thinking of nothing that has me so puzzled. After these years, the pain, the willing, the missing, the pushing, the discomfort, the disliking of myself, the ‘nothing’ is just weird and wonderful. I feel settled. Not complete, not whole, not done, just settled, like a huge ass oak tree.

I will not always feel this kind of contentment. It may be that I am seeing my circle of concern and circle of influence are closer together. I no longer seek to control all that I cannot.

I am a widow, I am a mom, I am a business person, I am an athlete (re-inspired by the trapeze and the archery to begin working on that again). And I am dying. We all are. And all this makes sense to me and brings me hope and courage and the knowledge that no matter what I feel, it will pass. It will pass. There is contentment in that.

Art’s life passed. And damn it all, just damn, damn, damn, damn it all. This powerful gift of my growing into myself, of the discovery and comfort of who I am and who I am not, of understanding the power of loss, is because of his death. It’s all because his last great gift to me was his death.

The gift that truly keeps on affecting me, like a pebble in a pond.