Sunday, May 3, 2009

Still Here


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]

24 comments:

TheWritersPorch said...

D.....There will never be a day that Stephanie is not missed, but there will come a day when YOU do more than just exist!
Hugs,
Carol

Hilary said...

Hugs to you, Doris.

Maggie May said...

Doris....... You will never completely get over it. How could you as her mum. But I hope it will get easier for you.
My daughter tells me that she is going through much the same as you & that was last Sept when she lost her husband. Days when she feels she has mastered the loss..... days when she cries unexpectedly as she drives down a road that brings back memories. All sorts of things like that. Just let it happen D... XOX

J said...

Take care of yourself.

Mental P Mama said...

Doris--I think of you all often. Take care of yourself.

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

Sounds like you had a panic attack...

Have you spoken with your tutors l'm sure you have. I understood that they will sometimes(they did this with Larry)mark you for your average work and not have to sit exams.

You are working very hard, not sure you are being kind to yourself D. I know you want to keep going... but breathe babe, it early days, really early...

FFF x

Akelamalu said...

You will never NOT want to be reminded of Stephanie. There will come a time when you will only remember the good things about her and the pain will have lessened to a manageable degree. Hang in there. x

LORENZO said...

I don't imagine a day will go by that you won't think of her. It is all so hard to figure out and deal with it the same time. I don't know you, but I hope that strength comes your way. All the best- LL

septembermom said...

Take care of yourself. Hugs :)

SOUL: said...

i think of you alot ...
you will get through this. i know it doesn't feel like it sometimes.. but all of you will.
prayers, hugs, and peace , my friend-

Moannie said...

I think of you constantly. If I allow myself to I can imagine what you must be suffering and I truly feel some of your pain. Dear Doris,try to find time to let the pain pass,and it will, slowly pass and you will be able to remember with a smile.
XO

An Irish Friend of Bill said...

good luck with the !! exam, and thanks for posting :)
keep on keepin on..

Annette said...

((HUG))Thanks for checking in. We all care.

SandyCarlson said...

God bless you and your honesty and your heart. As a regular reader of your blog, I know how big your heart is. I feel for you. I repeat myself and feel totally inept for doing so. But I do. And I take in all you say to learn from your experience.

Not Afraid to Use It said...

I'm back in town now and catching up. Hugs and hugs and hugs.

ConverseMomma said...

I hope the sun finds you today, and brushes gently against your face. I hoe you can find a song that leaves your heart full. I hope for you, a bit of happy against the storm.

Daryl said...

(((Doris)))

Grieve ... let the sadness wash over you .. dont fight it, embrace it... the ebb and flow of it will heal you ... xoxo

Jay said...

Oh, gosh, they really should have warned you about that film. I'm sorry. :(

I hope you get that pain checked out. Take care of yourself, D.

TSannie said...

Holding you close in my thoughts. Every single day.

the walking man said...

We still be here too Doris. Be well.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

I remember going to a sci-fi convention after my dad's passing and one of the talks was an X-Files-themed forensic panel. Headed by a medical examiner. With graphic photos. And a normally very interesting topic for me was so very painful and I had to leave.

You have a stronger constitution than I, hon. Love you.

Syd said...

I don't think that the missing of your daughter will stop. But I think that the pain will go away with time. It's all too fresh right now. Too raw. Give yourself time and be gentle with yourself.

Lavinia said...

Hi River Poet. I've been quietly thinking of you. (((Hugs)))).

Cath said...

Doris I don't know what I can say to you - so I will say nothing and just read, be here, hold you and hug you.

((((Doris))))