Life, Love, Art, Heart Failure and Assorted Ramblings
life, love,art. heart failure and assorted ramblings
Don't Talk Like That...
I write to find out what my heart thinks....
I am here to celebrate my life, to uncover my fears, to hold on to love, to grieve my losses, to laugh long and hard, and to learn how to live a full magnificent life with heart failure. I am honoring my creativity, and exploring all of my emotions out loud ...before anyone can say....."Don't talk like that!"
Grief really sucks. It has screwed up just about every part
of my life that I had not already managed to screw up on my own.I had no idea how many horrible and truly weird things
grieving people experience. I thought it was just me, and I was quite possibly on the verge of "lock her up" crazy. Things I do
or don't do, that the outside world might think is unusual or weird but is actually perfectly normal for grieving people. The problem is, grieving people often don't
realize how normal we are until we share this experience....honestly including all of the friggen' weirdness.
Skip is home for a few days...we have played (gone
to the movies, out to dinner) and the big one...on my list of to-do's...Cleaned
out the pantry, painted, new shelf paper and reorganized...Yay...DONE!
And it feels like it was just yesterday...You are still everywhere…which becomes the most wonderful
painful fact of my day to day life.You
are not here, I still am.My heart
and brain still cannot get wrapped around this undeniable truth, but there is some
kind of unexplainable comfort that I have tangible and wonderful evidence of you
with me everywhere every day.
I know this is going to look and sound silly, but here goes
anyway!I read a quote the other day
that said: “Those that are living focus on dying, those that are dying focus on
living.” And I will add my own addendum “and being independent in my own
home is a big ass deal!!!” So, this little doo-hickey
may not look like a big deal to you but for me, it will be fantastic!Hand-held shower heads are the most spectacular things…when
you can reach them. However, the shower stool
and my diminishing inability to reach up…is making showering a bit dicey!After looking at all kinds of possibilities,
including the obvious of installing additional grab bars and praying
that the old ceramic tile would not crack when the drilling begins, the cost or having a weirdo
stranger in my bathroom to install it. I was at a frustrating standstill of
what to do short of sponge baths or not showering at all, and believe neither is a good option. Then there was
Amazon!And this suction cup doo-hickey holds a showerhead that you can put it anywhere on your wall came up in my search! This
means I will not have to stand up in the shower at all to reach the showerhead.Amazon is my hero for $9.99 and there will be no weirdos in my bathroom!
"Express Yourself" Charles Wright and 103rd St. Band
The most heinous part of losing a loved one are the sneak attacks
of overwhelming uncontrollable grief. I understand that grieving people call them “triggers” and they can be anything! They are brought on by a situation, a memory, a smell, a song, food, a photograph, a grocery store...it can be absolutely any ridiculous thing known or unknown! And that is precisely why they are so unavoidable and overwhelming.I am learning how to “check-in” with myself,
especially after or during a trigger, figuring out what it was, how to avoid it or at
the very least acknowledge that there is one coming and prepare myself.
I am now wondering if I can activate that same “check-in” when there is something
that helps, creates a giggle, makes me feel better.Yesterday I got to help. It was as simple as
helping my son drop off and pick up his car for some work.Yesterday I got to be the HELPER …NOT the HELP-EE…and
it really felt good!
"No matter how your short-term memory worked before your loss, it has likely changed in your grief. It's as if remembering all of life's little details are "extra" expenses, and your mind can't afford them. Your mind can only retain so many things, so it simply drops what is not necessary for survival."
Thank goodness for Megan Devine, therapist, writer and someone that can honestly share the real grief experience. Her writings always make me feel a bit more normal. Not better, but normal in my own, sometimes scary, weirdness.
This time of year, seems to add an extra measure of "holy
crap".Christmas, 45th wedding
anniversary, and the New Year, it feels like I am already bearing more than I
can, more than I should ever have to. There is the heaviness of all the ways I
miss you and the traditions that have gone flat. Death sours the season in ways that I could not have ever
known or understood.
I have always loved the holidays. There are parts of me that
want the traditions to stay exactly the same, other times I want to change
everything make it new, start fresh. But right now, I think I would rather
just hide in my blanket fort until the whole thing is over and adding insult to
injury… it is another Monday …always a good day for a blanket fort. I have no idea how I will survive, just
fairly certain as long as I have a blanket fort that I will.
For a good part of my life, I really felt like my
superpower (most of the time) was my ability to assess and control my reactions to a bad or a good situation.I carefully began to realize that the only
thing in life, I had any kind of power over is how I feel about something. For a control freak, this is a big deal! Most of the time this fell into the “picking my
battles” or simply eliminating the source of frustration from my “emotional plate”.But this is really the first
time I have not been able to do that! How does one rationalize the ridiculous nonsense, like
I am terribly lonesome, but I do not want to be around people? How much I want to claim
my self-confidence back but I am now realizing how much of that was because I always
had him to back me up, even when I was wrong. I set deadlines for myself “to be
over it”, they come and go and still I am not over it. These feelings are
frustrating and uncontrollable. I have lost my superpower. It is not pretty or comfortable. What I am left with is incredibly vulnerable and absolutely no control over how I feel about anything. The only thing I can hang on to, right or wrong, is to be fearlessly honest and authentic about surviving death.
"We Are All Alone"(Learn How to Pretend) Boz Scaggs
It does not matter where or who, the first thing they ask, out of true concern
is “How are you doing?” My “go-to” answer is I am fine. That is what I want you to hear. But it is a lie. I am not fine. I did not go to a Christmas party last night
with wonderful art friends and gallery owners because I just could not face
them. I turned down an invitation to
another party next weekend for the same reason. (That and I should not be
driving at night, or at all for that matter!) I fell flat on my tail bone in the bathtub this
week (not a pretty picture) and it still hurts like the dickens, the cat drug
in another rat, a leftover from the now-empty hoarder house next door, and I
came as close to passing out, without actually collapsing, chasing him and the
rat back outside. The house inspection for new homeowners’ insurance did not go
well, because so many building codes have changed and the house is 50 years
old. My TV remote quit working and I cannot understand what the technical
support people are asking me to do to fix it….thank goodness for Roku, at least
I can change the channels. Just another
normal week without you, I am fine....but I lie.
Today marks the end of 4 months and the beginning of the 5th
I have been alone. His death still
marks my time weekly and monthly. August 5th feels like yesterday
and years ago at the same time and I struggle to keep track because my emotions and
grief play terrible tricks on my perception of time in both my heart and head. One of
the things I have learned is how awkward it is to be around people.I work so hard to smile, blend in, NOT to
talk about it so no one is uncomfortable, but it is exhausting and painful to
pretend that I am recovered, and back to normal. I know most people want and expect the old me,
and I try, but to be so profoundly changed, grieving, and so different at the same time
is brutal.I do not want anyone to feel
sorry for me, I just wish I could share this grief.But until then I am learning to accept me, and
the glorious mess that I am.
As much as I want things to stay the same, comfortable, and
what I know, they change and I have no choice but to move along with them.Changes used to be discussed, not always before they were made. Most changes were a deliberate act.Since August an ongoing series of changes
keep rolling over me.Some require my
input others are going to move on with or without my acceptance.Some are huge legal (well huge for me) others
are as silly as how do I shop for groceries for 1 person.But what I can tell you is that every
decision brings a certain amount of angst because, in the end, I have no one to celebrate
the successes or share my mistakes.That
is kind of what I am thinking as I unpack the Amazon blow-up Christmas outdoor snowman
to replace the 9 ft penguin that just crapped out.And I wonder do I really need a giant blow-up snowman?This time, "the same, the comfortable and what I know" overrules anything reasonable. And one big blow-up tacky, obnoxious, ridiculous and happy Christmas decoration is how it
has always been for over 20 years and I just cannot change that, not yet.
"The Same Mistakes" James Blunt
He is up!
There are no ice sickle lights along the roof because that is way outside my skill set at this point, but I do have just plain white lights on the rock border. So this year the snow is already on the ground rather than falling off of the roof. My grandsons were great at doing that! I cannot wait to see it when it gets dark!
Surviving roadblocks!I know it might sound silly to most, but roadblocks to recovery pop up daily.
One of the biggest I have found is giving away your “things”. Your truck, your clothes
and this weekend the boys came and I wanted them to have your fishing stuff,
watches, coin collections, metal detectors, tools, family heirlooms, and your
guns.As much as I want to and know in my heart you
would want them to have them too, each time it feels like I am giving away
parts of you, I am letting go of you over and over and over again.It hurts but to do anything else would not be
right either.These were things my son
and grandsons could use and enjoy and perhaps remind them of much you loved
them. I am reminded of the proverb that I will misquote here…You cannot open
your hands to accept the new gifts of life if you have your hands clenched around
the old things.I am learning that
holding on the “things” does not make me feel good, holding on to our love and
memories does.The stuff has become a
roadblock that may be
Sideways is a good description of my recent life! I recognize
how things should be, but I know some never will and then there are other
things I should do and be and are doable but I just can’t.Life has gone sideways!There are days that my head and heart want to
do something and my body just craps out on me, and the same thing happens in reverse….it
I decided I would not do an indoor Christmas tree, but I would do
simple outdoor decorations. I was a light string short and the blow-up Christmas
penguin sprung a leak.Then there has
been the gross rat invasion after the next door “hoarder house” was cleaned.
(She lived there for years, with 2 dogs but the last 6 weeks without power or water,
it took a 4 person hazmat team to 2 dumpsters to clean it out). The cleanout
was followed by an exodus of rats into the neighborhood! I caught 3 in traps, then in an effort to stop
up and possible entry point with that expandable insulation spray can, I
trapped one inside the wall, I cannot begin to explain the putrid smell. The bottom section of the porch screen door "fell" out, the one with the cat door. It has felt like I am paddling hard as I can
and accomplishing nothing.I am not
standing still.I am moving as fast as I
can, which admittedly is not that fast, in fact, it feels more like doing nothing
more than stamping out fires before they overwhelm me.
I am not moving forward or backward…but I am moving to just
maintain. I just wish it was faster, better, healthier, recovered, etc. etc. Although I prefer to acknowledge that sideways
is better than downward or completely immobile. I am accepting sideways as a positive
"Everyday is a Winding Road" Sheryl Crow
PS...got another string of lights, ordered "Rat sorb" overnight from Amazon it seems to be working thank goodness, a new blow-up snowman on the way and I have the bottom of the door and a healthy supply of duct tape out on the table for repair, my day is full moving sideways!
So, here is this: wherever I am in my life, whatever path I
am currently on: I write.
I write to leave my future self some messages. I write to
give myself a path to my heart. I write to figure out the lessons of the
universe. I write to say the things I am afraid to say out loud that might hurt
someone's feelings, sound silly or is just something that over the years I have
learned is not proper to talk about in public.
I am working so hard to smile and appear to be “over it”
while my life is still shifting and changing. It feels like standing at the
beach.Right at the edge where the waves
recede and wash the sand from under my feet. The first few waves you feel the
sand slipping away.Then all of the
sudden I have to step forward, backwards, or sideways so I do not lose my balance
and fall down.As I shift away from the
intensity of the early days, I often feel as though I am failing.I just do not know which way to step first. I
feel like I have to re-enter the minutiae of life and I am failing.
So I write to leave myself a map, or develop a plan, reminding
myself of what did not work, and explore what might work, because in the end, I
just really don’t know.
This will be my first Thanksgiving after 45 years without
you.There were lots of “Norman Rockwell-ish”
Thanksgivings, but there were also a good amount of harrowing, terrifying and
looking back, funny Thanksgivings too!There were years when it was just our little
family of 4, years of a full house bursting at the seams with extended family and friends, a year in Philadelphia
with 160 teenagers in the high school band performing in the Thanksgiving Day parade, and when both
of our sons were in the service, (Navy & Air Force) stationed far away from home that we shared our Thanksgiving dinner for other young
servicemen that were also stationed far away from their own homes and family. Each of these precious memories all had one thing in common…you sitting
at the table.As I enter this unimaginable holiday season without you, I am trying so
hard to allow the grateful, happy, funny and loving times to exist between the overwhelming grief of losing you.This Thanksgiving I will be grateful for the wonderful
memories and supportive family that I do have, but there will also be unbearable grief that you not here.