I have just come back from what should have been two lovely days away with my Medjool. My new love. My number two. (Not Second Best. Just Number Two. Subtle but Important difference).
Some of our time away was lovely – truly relaxing, soothing, stunningly beautiful, comforting, renewing, and more. And some of it was just plain horrid. For me. And of course, I had to make it so for him because pain is just too big sometimes and I need someone else to feel some of it, to pass it on to, even if it’s totally unfair and unwarranted and immature and I should know better. And it’s not passing on the pain anyway. It’s doubling it. No one wins.
We went away on Friday 10th Jan. Four years to the day since David Bowie died. The world rocked and reeled instead of rocked and rolled. And four years to the day since my sweet youngest brother Edward died, aged 46, of a Glioblastoma brain tumour. My world rocked and reeled.
At one point in August 2015, the medical establishment said they gave him “two weeks to two months”. He had more than 5 more months. Not masses, but worth having. A pyrrhic victory for sure, because the outcome was the same. We counted his months in full moons. Friday 10th Jan 2020 was the "official” full moon of this month, and it was beautiful and stunning and sad and meaningful as it hung there massive as a pancake wanting to be gobbled up in the morning; and bright and tight and pert in the evening.Read more
Yes. I know. I have a funny thing about time. And dates. I take time to reflect on time and what time is, or might be.
Linear? Circular? Fluid? Fixed? Conceptual? Real? Polychronic? Monochronic? Measurable? Full of meaning and emotion? Or void of emotion and meaning?
Time takes on such a different meaning, a different feel, post-loss.
People say “Time stops”. I don’t think that’s true. I think “Time hangs, and grows pregnant, fit to burst”.
People say, “Time heals”. I don’t think that’s true either. I think healing is a choice, and you can heal from day one. Or even before. But it’s a choice.
People say, “In time you will just remember the sweet stuff”. That may be, over a long long long time, but not within 5 months, or 2.5 years, or even 3.5 or 4+ years. Yes – perhaps the sweet memories can start to outweigh the hard memories, but again there’s a massive element of choice, of intentionality, at play. It takes no effort at all for me to remember the hard stuff, if I choose to. And it takes no effort at all for me to remember the good stuff, if I choose to. If I am in a funk, only the crappy stuff comes. And if I am in a good space, more good stuff comes. It all hurts though. It’s either sweeter, or more poignant. Both hurt.
People also say, “It will get better”. I ask back, “What is the ‘it?’” My body’s aching? My fragile, hurting, bashed up heart? My quality of sleep? My engagement with life? My incessant fear about having another child die before I do? My roller-coaster emotions? What exactly gets better?
It’s all such hollow talk. Such shallow reflections. And totally useless. An abhorrent waste of time.
Here are some deeper – to me – reflections about time, post-loss.Read more
Grief is like a roller-coaster, sometimes you are up and sometimes you are down. There is no actual manual on how to navigate all this. There are resources to help you with it, but everyone deals with things differently.
I feel like this roller-coaster of grief is tricky. I feel like I have made great progress in moving forward with my grief, but I still feel stuck. Before my husband passed away, I always knew what I wanted. I had a good career, I married the man of my dreams, I was blessed with a child, and things seem to be in order in my life. Everything I strived for, I got through hard work and dedication. Then my life blew up, and I just don’t know what direction to take.Read more
One of the patterns I have noticed in friends’ responses to whatever I happen to post on social media is that, when I post some good news, “happy photos”, or an achievement, I get 3 or 4 times as many “likes”, comments, and whoopy doos, than if I post something hard, messy, painful and tough. There the sorrow just hangs out its forlorn head alone, unnoticed.
I know there are a gazillion algorithms deep at work in the bowels of (for example) Facebook’s functioning, and when one person “likes” or comments on something, a whole host of their own friends will see it too. Especially if there is a connection to me. A snowballing of likes and comments ensues.
Some “likes” are more powerful than other “likes”. I am sure I could rank order my friends in terms of the impact of their likes. But I won’t. I am not particularly interested in Facebook’s bowel-y algorithms. I am sure they are functioning healthily.
What I find somewhat more fascinating is the underlying tendency for there to be more responses and comments when things are “good” than when things are “bad”. When I am “happy” than when I am “sad”.
Good news is rewarded. Cheered. Celebrated. Raved. Hearted and clapped and liked.
Sad, tough, lonely news is barely acknowledged.
Is it even seen? I don’t know. I think it is. I suspect that some friends see every single thing I write. That I am “tagged” in some way. Tracked, like an inmate with dodgy behaviour patterns.Read more
I want you to know that I accept the fact that you couldn’t stay
Even though my heart, keeps breaking every single day
I feel your loss in everything that I am, and in everything that I do
Losing you was the hardest thing I have ever had to do
My grief is great because my love for you is deep
The deeper the love, the harder you grieve
I know you wouldn’t have been able to be the same
And that would have killed you in every wayRead more
I felt my heart stop when your heart stopped beating
I felt the air in my lungs leave my body, when you took your last breath
I felt the world crumbling down on my chest, with every shock wave that went through yours
I was an empty vessel walking above ground, while yours lays down in the soil empty as well
I cried storms of sorrow, while rain poured down on your resting place
Lifeless is how I feel at times, lifeless is what you became
When you left this earth, part of me went with you
The part that stayed also stayed with a piece of you
She is all you in every wayRead more
What you don’t know is that
People die because of Grief
People die because of a Broken Heart
People Die by Suicide
Because their Grief is
Too Much to Bear
I had a call just last night from the
Now-orphaned-daughter of a friend
Whose husband was my friend and colleague
He had helped Mike get to
Chemo treatments on occasion when
I just couldn’t manage to fit it all in
But my friend also died
Just months after Mike died
And my new friend
My friend’s wife
Missed him too much
And like Julia chose to end the
Desperately Painful Grief that had
Settled over her life and her being
Her present and future and
Even her past
Replacing the love she had once felt
And reveled in and rejoiced in
Not a fair reward for
Decades of love
I'm really broke.
I'm really tired of being broke.
I'm really tired of talking about being broke.
I'm really tired of typing and writing about being broke.
Even when my husband Don was alive, we struggled financially. Everyday. But he worked and I worked, and we helped each other out. He started helping me out way before he moved in with me. He used to send me checks from Florida to New Jersey, telling me that he knew how much of a struggle it was for me out there and he wanted to help me pay my bills. He saved up enough money to move in with me, when he finally did make that move, so that he could get through a few months without a job, in case it took him that long to find work in EMS where I lived. He found work quickly. He made okay money, better than what I made, but his money stretched way further down in Florida. NYC life ate up his money fast. So we were broke. Often. But he always made sure we had enough to go out on a nice date, take me to dinner, see a movie, cover the basics. I felt taken care of, even though we didn't have a lot.Read more
In France, where I live, early September, with its “back to school and back to work” is known as “la rentrée”.
This week is “la rentrée”. Schools go back. Three-year olds begin pre-school, known here as “Maternelle”. Six-year olds begin primary/”Primaire”. Eleven-year olds begin secondary, known as “Collège”, and 15-year olds begin “Lycée”.
In our home, I used to say that the entire month of September was “la rentrée”. We might have three kids in three different schools. We often had a new au pair to onboard into our family’s way of living. We had a whole long list of activities including music, sport, theatre and English-language learning to schedule.
It somehow always fell to me to figure out how it would all work, and how many able-bodied adults over the age of 18 would be required to schlep the kids around. I always had an eye on whether or not the schedule would still work if there was only the au pair available, for example when Mike and/or I were working late or travelling – or both.Read more
These last few days have been a mad rush. I accompanied my "now youngest" daughter Megan, who is 18, to start university in the middle of the UK. We live in France, so it’s a bit of a schlep, and since we take a flight, there’s a limit to what we can carry. Furnishing her student digs, then, becomes a race against time and my credit card’s flexibility.
We had 1 ½ very full days together. The first was spent filling up trolley after trolley with duvet, duvet cover, pillows, cushions, sheets, towels, pots, pans, cutlery and crockery. And then another with food items ranging from bread, milk and butter to cumin, olive oil and sriracha sauce. To non-food items like toilet paper, washing up liquid and bin bags. Via some fresh produce of course. I have rarely done such big shops. Only when moving houses and countries.
It was hard, effort-wise. Physical effort from the schlepping, and emotional effort from the semi-conscious countdown to the moment we’d have to part, when I would head to the airport and home. We don’t have plans to see one another till Christmas.
I am not a very good parent for shopping drudgery. I have never much enjoyed it. Mike was better at it. Or he did it with a better smile on his face.Read more