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Archive for the tag “Writing”

Death and Taxes

I wrote this entry a year ago.  I wanted to write another for today, but I thought instead, I’l just repost.  Writing is a wonderful way to chronicle the feelings of our past; we can relive them. Writing keeps our memories alive.  I continue to change and grow through this loss – through this grief.  I continue to live in the “now,” and try to live fully by not fearing sickness and death.  It’s a journey – one in which I will certainly continue experiencing loss. But for today – I repost the past, and hold in my heart my sister, Terrie. Caring for Terrie changed my life drastically.  Dang I miss her!

 

Today is April 15th – Tax Day.  It is also the day my only sister died at age 53 after battling Leukemia for a year; a battle she was absolutely positive she was going to win! The entire time I wanted to shake her and tell her to realize she may die, that she should take this seriously, that she should follow instructions. I would call people crying hysterically – I was so afraid she was going to die.  The wise friends would respond,”Of course she is going to die; we are all going to die.”

What good would it have done to have made her talk to me about dying, about her death, about the arrangements.  Sometimes I thought she was amazingly optimistic, and at other times I thought she was purely delusional. I was her caretaker, I got so close to her, so close that I started referring to her as “we” when saying things like, “we really did great today in physical therapy,” or “we need to eat more to gain our strength!” It became a joke between us; an inside joke.

It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done – caring for my sister day in and a day out during her illness  I was there to talk with the docs, to fill in the family, I was there to wipe her nose and her butt, I was there to hold her hand while she was in a coma, and to watch her eyes open when she regained consciousness.  I had a role, a job, a place in life. It was exhausting and difficult, and sorrowful, and yet it could be the most blissful experience as well.  Feeling just for one moment that I had comforted, made the right medical decision, impressed someone with my medical vocabulary (the docs would say, “Do you work in the medical field?” I would respond, “No, but I’m here everyday!”

One day when Terrie was recently out of a coma, she asked me, What time is it?”  I said, ” 3 o’clock.” She exclaimed, “In the morning?” I said, “No silly, in the afternoon.” This was the same day it took me 20 minutes to get her situated in bed after sitting up for a few brief moments.  At one point I was huffing and puffing and bent down very close to her face and she looked into my eyes and said, “Please don’t leave. You being here makes it bearable.” I don’t know if I ever told anyone she said that. . . until now. When friends and family and loved ones would tell me I had to back off and take care of myself and get some rest – I could see Terrie’s beautiful blue eyes staring at me and saying, “You make it bearable.”

It’s been 3 years, and my problem is I still have expectations of how it should or shouldn’t feel. I realized today how tired I am and how today – the anniversary day – brings back that feeling of walking through cotton wool.  I can’t remember words as I am in mid-sentence.  I read a text but forget to ever respond to it. I forget to pay bills. I sometimes forget what year it is. I am stuck in 2010 – I write this year more often than not on checks, etc. I think the phrase should be “grief induced ADD.”

And today there were bombs in Boston. What right do I have to be sad? She was 53. It was Leukemia. There are worse things. And this – this comparing – this ability to put things (pain, death, loss, terror) into compartments as if they are knick knacks in a shadow box – is how I survive. I know that it is okay to be sad today, but I can’t just be sad. I have to get up and go to work and act, and wonder what it would have been like to just stay home, to just be sad, to not have to make it bearable for anyone anymore. To just let go, just fall apart.

I wanted to write something here today, but instead I was falling asleep in the living room when I forced myself to grab the computer and write.  I force myself to write as if writing this is so damned important. As if writing makes my feelings real or valid or . . .heard.  You see I only let myself cry silently tucked away – not in front of the kids or my husband or friends – but just tucked away. As if my grief would be unbearable to you.

Today – I googled my dad’s name because I forgot his death date.  What appeared were the listings of the obituaries from my mom (78), October 17, 2012, my brother (56), January 18, 2012, my sister (53), April 15, 2010, and finally my dad, April 24, 2007.

I still have a brother – he is the oldest – I am the youngest, we are close even though we live 2000 miles apart.  I emailed him today, “Thinking of you today. . .tax day and all.  Peace.”  He knows what I mean. There are so many songs, and jokes, and history that I want to pick up the phone to ask my sister.  And what will I do when the next death comes? We are all going to die, but God I could use a break from the complete exhaustion that grief brings to me.  I’ve tried to act, and go on, and run, and work, but still the grief exhausts me. The grief isolates me. Going to events with lots of happy people just seems like it would zap any energy I may have right from me.  Each decision to go to a social event or visit a friend is weighed in a meticulous way that once upon a time wouldn’t have been a second thought. Grief is heavy.

So I write, and writing brings me acceptance. Writing makes the comparisons and fitting into compartments sound useless.  Writing seems to be a comfort, it seems to make this bearable. I read the obituaries that popped up – it was a lot to read. It is a lot of grief. I cried, and then I wrote, and now I will sleep.  My taxes are paid, and tomorrow I go to work, and maybe even run or cook a meal. I don’t know what is to come – that is good – and terrifying.

Peace.

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Something Different – – – February 28

As a very young girl I remember writing stories in our living room on Heathfield Road in the Northwood suburb of Baltimore.  I would hang my stories around the living room. It was an escape. I don’t think anyone ever read them.  I wrote a bit in college – creative writing – trying to work through incredibly intense damage from my childhood.  Writing did something for me.

I began writing again when my sister was gravely ill.  I used writing as a vehicle to give people information, but it became the thing that got me throughout the daily grind of caring for her. It wasn’t only the writing but the responses I got from others. I am what some would call extroverted. Therefore when I write, I do like people to read it. I’d love to write more. I’d love to write a book. I’d love to write for a living.  Except – – -writing is very difficult. If I want to be a writer – I have to write.

This past January, I committed to writing on here everyday.  It was kind of cool at first. It felt like a spiritual discipline. It is becoming more difficult, but a loved one reminded me that this is my blog. If I don’t write everyday, it is okay. I’m the only one that will be disappointed. We’ll see what happens.

Around the time I committed to write everyday, I also began submitting some of my writings for publication. Yesterday, my first piece was published on this very cool and quirky website called Henry Harbor.  Some of you may have seen this in a similar version about a year or so ago on here. Check it out: http://goo.gl/t14NQh

Peace.

Peace returns to those who wait. . . and work for it.

I haven’t written on here since August 13th.  When I logged on tonight (at the subtle request of my husband), I was surprised  to see that I wrote on that date – it was my 50th birthday, and things have been looking up ever since!  After several years of emotional suffering, I had resigned myself to a life of darkness.  I wasn’t going to jump off a bridge, but I was certain that for me life was to be lived in fog – moving from extremes of deathly tired to super anxious.  I had accepted this. And then I turned 50.

August was tough – even worse than the usual darkness I had come to welcome since 2010. I was looking forward to turning 50 until I woke up in August realizing my mom wasn’t around to make me feel special on my birthday – I was a child without parents. A sister without my sister. Like most things – August 13th came and went – and I was reminded that it is usually the thinking about things that is much more difficult than actually living through them.

August came and went as well, and without any warning, like the suddenness of a thunder clap, I had the strangest sensation.  It was as if I was stuck with a hypodermic needle, I could literally feel the warmth enter into my body, mind, and soul.  I was at peace.  And since that day, I have felt peace in my body, mind, and soul each day.  Not every minute of everyday, but everyday at some point in the day.

As I was drowning in the darkness, I kept swimming for land, seeking a life preserver. I felt the need to connect even though I didn’t have the energy for meaningful human interaction most days. I began sending morning texts to a group of spiritual friends. This forced me to get up each morning with a purpose.  I had to send a text.  When I began this in January, I would usually read spiritual literature and send a quote from it.   Something shifted this summer – after I turned 50.

I wasn’t writing on here, but I was writing. In the mornings, I began creating more and more space for myself: space to read, space to meditate, space to pray, space to reflect, space to text. My texts began turning into thoughts of gratitude, stories of journey. Here are some snippets:

September 11th: Today is my 20th wedding anniversary It is miraculous that I have been loved so dearly after such a rocky start to my life. Relationships are difficult – not only marriages – but friendships, work relationships, families, etc. I’ve been blessed to have many spiritual tools to use in nurturing these relationships. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been worth it. My relationship with Jeff continues growing and changing. It is truly sacred and something I’ve grown to treasure each day. What are you thankful for today?

September 12th: As busy as I am this time of year – working many 12-hour days each week – I’m managing to crawl into bed each night grateful, at peace, and thanking God. I’m amazed that the darkness of the last few years is dissipating. I thank those who have simply loved me even when they didn’t know what to do or say. Like the moon reflecting the sun’s light – you all were reflecting God to me when I was too blinded by grief and anxiety to see.  The sun was too bright – I had to look to the moon, and there I found you reflecting God’s love. 

September 13th: As tired as I am, I am grateful to be tired from living and contributing to society instead of tired from killing myself with a destructive lifestyle. 

September 14th: Did you step outside yet today? Summer is begiining to give up her fight. I was amazed at the change from just one week ago. The sun – that massive ball of heat – seems so much lower in the sky. Everything looks and feels different in just one week. Whether or not you are happy about the changing seasons, can you be moved by these miraculous cycles? For me – it’s like looking at the majesty of the waves or the mountain – God is all over this stuff. It is hope and promise that all things must pass; that this moment is turly all we have. I can let change make me blue, or be filled with wonder. 

Oftentimes the pain of changing keeps us from even knowing we are transforming. Does a caterpillar know it is becoming a butterfly? Change often hurts, but if we hang in there and continue getting out of bed, continuing to be real with those we trust, we have a chance at transformation.  That is what happened to me when the grief loosened its grip on my throat. I was transformed, but hadn’t noticed what was happening – I was blinded by the pain.

I say this all came about without warning, but it didn’t come without work. I fought for it.  I didn’t simply try to get over the grief and darkness.  There is no getting over it.  I went through it, I hated it, I embraced it, I respected it, I fought it, I surrendered to it, I created space for it, and I let go of it. This isn’t to say that I don’t get sad, or mad, or anxious ever, but something has shifted. I created space, and I finally got a hold of some perspective. I used many tools – spiritual tools, professional therapists, and many friends.

Peace. Much peace.

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