As soon as I think I’m doing ok, suddenly, I’m definitely NOT ok. Grief grabs me by the heart and violently shakes me. Maybe it’s a place, a memory, a feeling and even a smell that sneaked up on me and reminded me Roger is gone forever. Yesterday’s sun and mild temperature were bittersweet. I walked alone and tried to let the sunshine and warmth be my walking partners. I kept waiting for Roger to walk along with me. He didn’t show up, but grief did.
I grieved for several years as dementia relentlessly claimed more and more of Roger. I thought I knew how I would feel when Roger died. I was wrong. No matter how long I had known Roger was dying, his death still shocked me and brought pain beyond anything I had ever experienced or imagined.When his last breath came, my heart was still begging him to stay, but what I said was “It’s all-right to leave, Roger. I will be ok.”
My last gift to Roger was letting him go; a gift that completely used me up.
Roger died four months ago. The high and low spikes of grief are still so extreme I can’t see a straight line. At times the waves of grief gently roll onto the shore; at other times grief is a wall of water, a tsunami, roaring towards shore, and I am running for my life. Lately, I have more moments of focusing on my life and not thinking about Roger.When I realize I have “forgotten”Roger for a few minutes, I feel guilty because I am alive and he is not. Grief and guilt are painful partners.
So often we resist talking about death; even though it is the ONLY certainty that life offers.When a song ends with the perfect note, it feels right and complete, and we are satisfied. In denying death we rob ourselves of composing our own song and creating our last, beautiful note to sound for eternity . When I am quiet I can hear Rogers’ beautiful note, a symphony of one.
This morning, my wise and tired friend, Susan, said ” I’m too tired to have it all.” She was talking about her frustration with not having enough energy and time to do all the things she wants to do each day. I told her I felt the same way and Bingo!she just gave me the subject for today’s blog! What to keep, what to let go off, and what to explore, are the decisions that create a life. As we age we have less energy and less time to get it right. Do we still try to have it all?
I think the children’s story, Goldilocks and the 3 Bears, has much to teach Susan and I about having it all. Let me explain! The story begins with the 3 Bears ready to dig into the porridge Mama Bear slaved over. Baby Bear whines that he wants berries in his porridge, so off they go into the forest to find berries. Goldilocks (Donald refers to her as the “blonde bimbo”) is out enjoying her morning and comes upon The Three Bears’ house. She’s very curious so decides to check it out. First,we all know she samples each bowl of porridge. Papa Bears’ porridge is too hot, Mama Bears’is too cold, but Baby Bears’is just right, so she eats it all. She finds the chair that is just right, and falls asleep in the just right bed. She doesn’t eat all the porridge, or sit in 3 chairs pushed together,or sleep sprawled across 3 beds. Goldi practices good self-care and doesn’t settle for less than just right.
Cold porridge, uncomfortable chairs, and lumpy beds just will not do. Goldilocks has fewer choices. She doesn’t need to gather information, and read reviews until she is paralyzed with indecision. Goldilocks knows the answers are within her so does not ask half of Fort Collins what they would do. She gets quiet while she walks the woods; her own truth and honesty guide her. When Goldilocks wakes up and runs away from the Bears, she has no regrets about her decisions. She knows she is just right.
Take that Donald!
When I sit down to write, Sister Carmalita is hitting my knuckles with a ruler and chanting “You dumb bunny!” I am sure she really wanted to say “You dumb shit!” I am not making this up.
Prose is torturing me lately, I get caught in run-on sentences and different tenses; but poetry is shorter and easier. I am so naive! Writing poetry demands discipline, focus, and the determination to travel to the ends of the earth to find the perfect word. I know that I have enough angst and sorrows, and these emotions are a requirement for writing poetry. I decide that writing poetry is foolish, but I will try anyway and see how it goes. I am a risk taker.
One single raindrop
Quietly grows a deluge
One plus one plus one….
Tree Bones and knuckles
Black blood crawls through hollow veins
Thin capillaries expand
Green Spring still a dream
Cat fight, screams and howls
The night symphony begins.
Loud clashing sounds hurt, but still
I stop to listen.
Roger would have loved the Sister Carmalita story and added it to his catalog of stories with a few embellishments. He loved to laugh and make others laugh.