Sunday, May 3, 2009
Hello world; I'm still here.
Recently I described my waves of grief to someone like this: One minute I'm standing on the beach collecting shells (memories), and the next minute I'm being sucked to the bottom of the ocean. (Think tsunami here.)
Today is an in-between day so far. Wednesday all three of us were at the bottom of the ocean together. We chose to deal with it in different ways. Two of us cried, slept a little, and got very busy. One of us slept for 5 hours straight. It's a strange thing, this grief. It sneaks up on a person. It comes creeping up, ready to tap me on the shoulder at any time. One minute I'm working, going along just fine, and then a wave of sadness and exhaustion overtakes me.
I don't often know I'm going to cry before I do. I'll start to weep in the middle of a sentence. I'll have to hang up from a call because the tears are coming. I will sometimes cry in restaurants, so I haven't been going out much.
Add to this the fact that I've been sick the last few days -- actually longer than that, but it has gotten worse the last few days. I've gone from having a little pain in my stomach to having a belt of fire across the left side of my abdomen. The last time I had something like this, it was pancreatitis, but some have suggested to me that it could be an ulcer, too. If it is, then it has definitely been brought on by extreme stress. I'm calling the doctor tomorrow so that maybe I will be able to eat again.
There is nothing like the stress I've been under. More than just the grief, it's been about trying to finish this semester in grad school. I have one final exam left, next Thursday, and have been studying for that. I hope my brain will function properly to allow me to do well on it.
Last weekend was my final weekend of class in the Thanatology course. I had three presentations: a web site review, a course design, and a debate on the Schiavo case. Between presentations, we met with people who were graduates of the program, and they talked to us about careers they had built for themselves with the degree. One man showed a film about home funerals. He didn't warn us that there would also be some anti-funeral (traditional) propaganda. They showed an embalming and how impersonal and violent it is. My friend Mandi and I looked at each other and then toward the floor. She recently lost her cousin who was like a brother to her. They did embalm him; we did not embalm Stef. I'm very glad.
I left the room after the film was over, convinced I was going to be sick. I was hot all over, sweating really, and I had gotten the metallic taste of shock in my mouth all over again. It was too much, too soon. I wish they had warned me.
But I managed to pull myself together and get through the rest of the day. Shock is a very strange thing. It's like having a bucket that is filled to the rim. One drop can spill the contents over. That's where I am right now.
Today is one month since the day we were notified of our daughter's death. I don't know if it gets any easier or not, but I suspect that it will. Every day I miss her. Every day I wish the phone would ring, and she would be there, telling me this was some awful mistake. Yet I am savvy enough about death to know that she really is gone. I saw her body. I held her cold hands. I kissed her still head. I saw that there was no life or vigor in the shell she left us with. She left us with a million little reminders of her, though. Every day something new appears. Yesterday it was a note she left her brother over a year ago, telling him when and where to meet her for a concert. We also found one of her pastel drawings, and I'm having that framed.
She is missed.
Dear God, she is missed.
[photo: Indian Ocean Tsunami, 2004]