Archive | October 2012

Learning to Live Without You—Day 1,044


Today is day 1,044 of living without him. I thought I would die on that day, and I suppose I did, but my heart continues to beat. I read a quote last night, which captures the feelings I have been experiencing lately. Rob Sheffield says:

It’s the same with people who say, ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’
Even people who say this must realize that the exact opposite is true. What doesn’t
kill you maims you, cripples you, leaves you weak, makes you whiny and full of
yourself at the same time. The more pain, the more pompous you get. Whatever
doesn’t kill you makes you incredibly annoying. (quote)

While I never want my friends to stop verbalizing their pain, I find the quote incredibly accurate in describing my own life. I just happen to be the type of friend who strives to make others feel better. I do not like to see my friends hurting and I recognize when they need a sympathetic ear. In the same regard, people are growing tired of how I continue to whine about my loss two years, ten months, and eight days after suffering the loss of my husband.

I have known for some time that I have to behave as two separate people in order to cope with my grief. Ironically, the therapy (in the form of Facebook) my daughter arranged for me has also become my greatest foe. It is where I go to smile and sometimes, it makes me cry. I have lost friends because they tire of my grief. I have seen posts reminding me just how much I irritate my friends. When they ignore my posts, I feel wounded. Silly, I know, but I seem to have little control of my emotions during the previous 1,501,920 minutes of my life, if it is even what one might consider “a life.”

I am incredibly busy as I embark upon completing a bachelor degree in English. I am sleep-starved as I prepare to enter graduate school, but I think writing may be a thread preventing me from drifting too far away from reality. I am learning that Facebook can only be therapeutic if one says what others wish to hear. My blog, on the other hand, is my blog. So few of my friends read it, and the ones who do are indeed true friends and understand my need to vent my frustrations. That is my reasoning.

I must strive to be two different people in order to continue living. I must appear genuinely happy in public and on Facebook in order to continue living; however, when I am alone or writing for my blog, I can be the pitiful, desolate creature I am destined to become. I can bask in the misery of my grief without the worry of offending others. It is a difficult task to wear the mask of the bereaved, but I have worn it before and I can wear it again.

I read a different quote last night that said, “If you spent less time bitching about your life, you’d possibly enjoy it more.” Supposedly, the “Rock” coined that phrase. I have heard it before though. I do not know how many wives the “Rock” has buried or if he spent the last 90 million seconds of his life grieving the loss of his loved one, but my bet is that he has not. Regardless of how much that particular quote hurt me because it seems to say, “Shut up already and get over it,” I see the truth in it. I do not agree with the latter half because only someone who has not experienced true grief can continue to “enjoy life.” However, I see the validity of recognizing that people tire of hearing people bitching about their lives. I was that person once, prior to experiencing loss. I am not that person now. I know how important it is to express the grief you feel, before it consumes you and threatens annihilation. Shakespeare is correct in his thought, “Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.”

I am making a promise to myself to manage my behavior more accordingly in the future. If I have learned anything during the last three years, it is that people will not understand the grief you feel until they have experienced it for themselves. I cannot control the behavior of others, but I can control my own behavior. Therefore, once again, I don the steely mask of the bereaved to appease others while I grieve privately. No one will notice. No one will mind at all. The only way they will know my broken heart is through my blog. And it is my blog, after all.

©2012 Relinda R.

Advertisements

The Spring (revised)


As I gaze upon the vivid colors of the fresh rose blooms, I recall your laughter in the spring. Do you remember how we laughed while we worked in our gardens filled with the magic of spring? I do. I remember the time it started raining while we dug in the earth with our bare hands. We were so filthy with the soil that turned to mud, but it smelled like the dry earth after a spring shower. What a lovely scent that was. I think we even danced around in the rain that day, laughing as though we did not have a worry in the world. Do you remember dancing with me?

Seeing the flowers in glorious bloom reminds me of the year we worked so diligently on our patio. We called it our little paradise. We joked that our beautiful wall of stones had our blood, sweat, and tears in its layers. We literally spent every moment we could building a place in which we could spend our golden years. Do you remember King Arthur, our first hummingbird? I saw him this past June. I think he sensed things were different this summer. The honeybees never came.

The spot that you had marked for the water fountain is still there. Our little puppy girl spent a lot of time lying in that very spot. She would lie in the sun as though she were working on a tan. I buried her in July. Did you see how strong I was as I placed the dirt over her lifeless body? I put her pink blanket over the top of her because I could not bear to put dirt on her beautiful fur. I believe she is at peace. Did you happen to see her?

Do you remember how we could not wait for spring just to see all our beautiful plants come to life? We often sat at the patio talking, sometimes just in silence, drinking in all the beauty that nature had to offer. Last May, tiny pink blooms adorned the fairy rosebush that you gave me. I was very careful as I cut the grass behind it. Did you see how big it has grown? The daisies that I loved never bloomed. It was as though they just could not grow. I saw them peeping from the dirt, but it seemed they were lacking the strength to battle the elements. Do you remember how I loved the bright red one? The different shades of red just called out to me. The beautiful red hue of the daisy seemed to blend all the joys and pains of life.

The blooms I gaze upon remind me of how beautiful our little paradise used to be. It was not so beautiful this past summer. The weeds kept breaking free from the soil and choking out the beautiful blooms of the flowers we had planted together. I struggled to keep all those weeds out, but in the end, they won. There was a day in June that I worked from dawn to dark just pulling those cursed weeds. I put some more tears and sweat into the layers of stone as I worked in the hot sun. The weeds just seemed to mock me. I finally gave up. There was no laughing on that long, hot day. Did you notice me?

The water well that you built still lacks a top. I remember how you had it all scoped out in your mind. You had the holes for the beams all dug, and the plans for the draw bucket on the table. I am considering filling up the holes now. I remember that I had been gone when you built that and it was the first thing I saw as I pulled into the driveway. What I remember most is the look of pride in your eyes as you watched for my reaction. Did you see the pride in my eyes? It may have been hard to see past all the love I felt for you.

There is no doubt that these beautiful blooms remind me of all the many spring seasons we spent together. It also reminds me of your vegetable garden you worked so hard to make bountiful. Do you remember how frustrated you felt when the deer kept eating all your vegetables? Even with all your frustration, you managed to smile when I told you the deer had to eat too. I remember how hard you studied trying to find a natural way to deter them from your bounty. All that just so I would not worry about the deer starving. I know you were laughing on the inside because you knew the deer had plenty to eat, without intruding on your garden. Do you still smile when you think of that?

The roses I am gazing upon bring tears to my eyes. It makes me remember the year you brought me so many rosebushes home to plant. They were so beautiful. I remember how one of the red rosebuds bloomed last November. It was perfect while the plant’s limbs were hideous in comparison. Just one single rose amidst all the frozen plants. Our daughter asked me why that one bud bloomed that way. I told her that it was a sign. It was good news for her daddy, but it would be the most devastating news for us. I was right. That was the last bloom you ever got to see in our little paradise. Now, you are in your own paradise. I buried you just before Christmas. I believe you are at peace. And I believe that there are beautiful sunflowers and roses of all colors surrounding you every day. Our little paradise is dead now, the flowers have all died, but I still sit at our patio, in silence, waiting for just one sign. If I close my eyes, I can hear your laughter from our last spring together. I miss you.

©2010 Relinda R.

A Thread of Hope



I decided to take a much-needed break from poring over volumes of critical approaches to Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. (Well, I did break earlier to vacuum and do a quick cleaning of my bathroom in order to maintain some semblance of cleanliness). I am pausing to document some thoughts and feelings I have experienced during the last week. One thing that has been plaguing me for some time now is that my own loneliness and grief consume me to the point that I fail to recognize how important it is that I stay strong for my family and friends.

I spent every free moment during the past week on academic matters. Since the English faculty at my college considered me worthy enough to apply for Sigma Tau Delta scholarships, I worked frantically to complete the application process. I finished. I do not have any hope of actually receiving a scholarship from the prestigious organization, but it will not be because I failed to try. Submitting the required material afforded me an opportunity to reflect on some academic accomplishments I achieved during my time as an undergraduate student. Most of my accomplishments occurred prior to Doyle’s death. Although I maintained a 4.0 grade point average until 2012, I received a ‘B,’ awards ceased to exist after 2010. It is as though after the one-year anniversary of his death (when the numbness began to wear off), a part of me slowly began to surrender to defeat.

I wish I could say that I did not cry myself to sleep last night, or that I have not cried today. Actually, I do say that, but only to placate others. This is my blog; I can be honest because only a few of my friends read it. Last night, the grief conquered my intention to study. The tears came unexpectedly and suddenly. Only the occasional gasps for air indicated that I still lived. My little schnauzer tried his best to console me, but exhaustion proved to be my only comfort. The tears have come frequently today as well, but I have managed to complete several tasks. I made a list of all the things I need to do and am working hard to concentrate on the listed tasks. Sadly, one of my tasks reads, “BREATHE.” I managed to breathe all week.

I received news that removed a great weight from my shoulders earlier. I learned that I will begin graduate school in the spring, despite all the technicalities of which I was concerned. I also learned that something I spent over three hours creating for two dear friends met with both their approvals. Two less things to worry about may seem minimal to most, but for me, it is a thread healing my broken heart and one of the beginning steps in remembering what hopefulness feels like.

During the previous week, through all my efforts to recapture a mere spark of my academic ability, I reflected on various awards I received throughout my life. I began earning awards when I was just a child. I was usually the winner or a runner-up in contests in which I dared to participate. That feeling of competitiveness, effort and hope ended when my husband’s life ended. The one thing that managed to silence my determination completely is grief. I will never be the person I once was. I evolved into a person I abhor—one who drowns in self-pity. I know that I will never again know love and I will be lonely for the rest of my life, but I also know that I must find that girl who could overcome anything to succeed. I must work harder to find stitches to help repair my broken heart. A dear friend told me that it seems as though I take one step forward only to be pushed back four steps. I must work harder to resist that force pushing me backward. I have to find that girl. I fear she is dead, but if not, and you catch a glimpse of her, please remind her that I need her.

©2012 Relinda R.

Surrender


“Finding someone you love and who loves you back is a wonderful, wonderful feeling. But finding a true soul mate is an even better feeling. A soul mate is someone who understands you like no other, loves you like no other, will be there for you forever, no matter what. They say that nothing lasts forever, but I am a firm believer in the fact that for some, love lives on even after we’re gone.” ― Cecelia Ahern

Image

I am changing every day, spiraling downward into a depth of despair like none I have ever known. I do not know how to stop it. I would like to find a foothold to hold my place securely so that I do not continue falling. Ahern’s sentiment is accurate. Love does continue. He has been gone for nearly three years now, but God knows I still love him with all my heart. Sometimes, after I have spent months just longing for a hug to remind me that I am still alive, I wonder how people manage to move forward. How do you close your heart to the person who was your world and forget everything that was your life. When he died, I died. All our dreams died. All our hopes died. My world ended.

I am sick to death of people telling me that I still have my children. They really do not need to tell me that. I am well aware of and grateful for my children and I thank God every day for not taking them too. However, losing a spouse and losing a child are two very different tragedies. I am not suggesting that one is more tragic than the other is. Either scenario is equally tragic. I love my children and they know. I do not expect them to put their lives on hold to fix mine. Unless someone is a skilled necromancer, he or she cannot help me.

Hang white flags all around and burn red capes for effect. That is all there needs to be now. White flags that dance in the wind and red capes that burn until only ashes remain. The white flags are only to symbolize the fact that I surrender. I surrender to this overwhelming feeling of desolation that controls my life. For a while, I believed that I could handle anything, I was the embodiment of super woman. My red cape is tattered and broken just as am I, and it is time to burn it with the rest of the trash.

The determined strong woman that once was me is gone forever. I missed my calling, I should have been an actress because I have to paint on a smile every day and pretend to be someone else. I think I manage fairly well because no one notices. If they do, the fact that I have not recovered from my loss merely irritates them or that I have the gall to share my sorrow and bring them down frustrates them. The writing of which I was once so proud only adds to my sadness because it has become nothing more than ramblings of a mad woman. The talent I once had is gone.

Image

I want to be done; I surrender. I am tired of the endless storm of tears and the misery consuming me. I am sick of the self-pity and the never-ending anguish torturing me. It is the most torturous death. I never before knew hopelessness, now it devours my soul. I keep asking how much longer I must endure the desolate existence that is my life, and all I hear is silence. I am tired of the silence. I am tired of my own whining. I just want to go home.

Image

I knew a girl, centuries ago, who had a real smile upon her face. She encouraged others and was always doing things for others. Filled with optimism and dreams, her laughter was contagious. She was smart and a talented writer. While never physically beautiful, she mesmerized others with her happiness and her hopefulness. She died. I miss her.

©2012 Relinda R.

“A Fig for Thee, Oh! Death” and A Fig for Thee, Oh! Grief


Last week, I took an exam that covered interesting aspects of creation as depicted by Native Americans; epistolary literature written by various individuals from Columbus to Samuel Sewall; captivity narratives; and metaphysical poetry. My mind is still muddled from grasping the concept of how metaphysical condensation and metonymic displacement work to diminish a culture. The realization that John Smith is a brilliant propagandist was enlightening for me. Better than that though, was finding a new hero in Roger Williams. Williams advocated separation of church and state, putting power in the hands of the people and…wait for it…wait for it…the tolerance of different religions. That is awesome. Thirty years and thirty pounds ago, I would have donned a revealing skirt, grabbed a pair of pom-poms and yelled, “Go Roger, go Roger.” Now, I will just smile knowing that one man had enough courage to promote the fall of Puritanism. Good thing that whole way of thinking collapsed because I would not have been a very good Puritan. I would have hanged for speaking my mind.

Back to the gist of this post—the metaphysical poet, Edward Taylor. He wrote the poem, “A Fig for Thee, Oh! Death.” The idea that he was addressing death caught my attention when I first read it. Learning that “a fig for thee” is equivalent to the modern day sentiment of “fuck you” is a catalyst to my education. Taylor is saying what I have been thinking for the last three years of my life. “A Fig for Thee” Death. Indeed.

Something else I have learned about American Literature is that slang existed long before it became popular and William Byrd ate boiled milk for breakfast every day. While reading “The Secret Diary,” which by the way is not a secret anymore, I learned that Byrd “[brought his] wife into temper again and rogered her by way of reconciliation.” Imagine my surprise at learning that rogered is equivalent to “having intercourse with.” To say that I was entertained does little to capture my amusement at this little tidbit. My mind immediately envisioned someone in full “pilgrim” dress (including that ghastly hat) elbowing his friend and saying, “How ‘bout it, buddy, did ya’ roger ya’self some of dat?” Yes, my mind goes there. I believe the modern-day expression is, “How ‘bout it, buddy, did ya’ tap some of dat?” I wonder if they sat around a card table while a woman (fully covered, of course) paraded by and said, “I’d like to fig me some of dat.” American Literature is proving to be quite entertaining when I allow myself to let my mind go where it will go.

I have often wanted to say, “A Fig for Thee” Grief. Although I believe that death does not exist, not really, in a sense of finality, that knowledge does little to comfort me. Knowing that we are souls with a body does little to cease grief. Understanding that he is now home and not experiencing pain does not ease the torture of being alone. Knowing that we come here to experience lessons that books cannot teach us does little to stifle the tears. I know that those who have not experienced the loss of a spouse cannot understand, but that does little to lessen my growing frustration. I know he is somewhere out there. I just want to find him. Until then, I just continue trudging along on this frustrating road.

©2012 Relinda R.