Thursday, November 10, 2005

What becomes of the broken hearted?

I signed the official hospice paperwork yesterday. It appears there will be no big miracle for us, although those who have endured such loss before me tell me that there will be small miracles in the days to come. I alternate between a preternatural calm and the inarticulate rage and pain of a wounded animal. They tell me these are "normal," whatever the hell that means.

I feel as though I have abruptly changed teams in the game of humanity. I've gone from those as yet basically untouched by real loss and sorrow to one of the walking and permanently wounded. It's a profound shift in how I approach life, and it makes me feel very old, very tired, very hopeless. Even in the bad times, I managed to dredge up some optimism, some energy for the daily work of living. It feels now as though I will never have them to draw upon again. I suspect there's some sort of truism here about encounters with mortality--one's own, of course, but also with the fragility of anything really good in life, and with the tenuousness of human happiness. And perhaps what I've done is grow up in some way, into a wiser and sadder version of myself.

I wanted only to raise my daughter with the one man I have ever really loved, with the one person I have encountered who made me feel completely unalone. I'm a basically fearful person, who spent her whole life afraid that something bad would happen--something bad enough that I couldn't cope with it. And now that bad thing is here.

Was it a premonition? I thought that the things we worried about were the things that didn't happen; in other words, that the bad things were the surprises. If so, I guess I didn't worry specifically enough.


At 1:31 PM , Blogger ABDmom said...

Dorcasina, I"m so sorry. Words aren't enough right now.

At 4:24 PM , Anonymous leslie said...

I can only echo what abdmom said.

At 6:07 PM , Anonymous New Kid on the Hallway said...

I'm so very sorry. Wishing you strength and peace.

At 9:05 PM , Blogger hot mess said...

oh, this is heartbreaking.
take good care. patience, courage, peace.

At 2:38 AM , Blogger Terminaldegree said...

I'm so, so sorry.
Hugs to you and your daughter.

At 10:14 AM , Blogger timna said...

I suspect that you will not have exactly the same optimism and energy to draw upon, but that they will be significantly changed as they slowly return. Your portrayal of the "fragility of anything really good in life" - that's what I need to remember.

take care.

At 1:12 PM , Blogger Yankee T said...

So sorry, Dorcasina. Sending loving thoughts your way.

At 2:12 PM , Blogger bitchphd said...

I'm so sorry.

And I hope that your friends and family and coworkers and job are giving you the time and space you need to have those swings between calm and rage.

It's been a long, hard fight. You've fought it bravely and fiercely and well, both of you. I know that's no comfort, but there it is.

At 3:40 PM , Anonymous ehj2 said...

everyone across the centuries who has ever felt the light of love burning from behind the skein of the mundane world shares this vigil with you. until the end of the cosmos, there is no other place we can ever be.

a poet once wrote with beautiful fidelity: "you are never alone and you can never be alone." even the very electrons in your body are smeared out across the solar system and shared by the bodies of all of us. the home of your soul which you have never left and can never leave ... the very bedrock below the fragrant gardens beneath your feet ... is larger than dreams can measure.

i suspect that love is the only light in the world, and the patience of love is the only true prayer, the only true devotion. the loss of love is the only true wound. and i think that after you know this you know everything, even though you didn't want to. now we are far past those places that words may safely go.

i am a useless old man in a tattered jacket in this circle of community around the uncertain warmth of a small wood fire at the edge of a falling night. we break bread together and eat silently in the only communion that has ever been available to us. but it is enough.

i can't write anything that everyone doesn't already know. i'm just an empty whisper at the edge of silence that might be no more than echoes of waves on the beach. but i am that whisper. i bring that whisper wrapped in a ribbon of threads pulled from my old beloved wool jacket.

please begin now to be oh so gentle and tender with yourself. don't fight with yourself over any emotion or feeling. i too know occasional rage and it screams from my very atoms. i too know guilt and have pulled the mountains of the world over me to cover me. i too have known fear and have barked at the cold empty night like a hungry injured dog. you are not alone. and these experiences utterly prove we are still alive.

plan for quiet. plan for everything to take longer. plan for the world to be out of focus. avoid additional stress, additional noise, any additional change.

for awhile nothing will matter ... food may taste like dry paste ... until it doesn't, and then you might feel guilty about feeling pleasure again. just be that. until you're not. please allow the healing of such a poignant wound to have its proper time.

your daughter is still everything and you will still be there for her as she is there for you. no light can ever be dimned and in time it will all find its way back to you. this is just a moment. and your husband will never stop smiling with you.

throw all advice away except your own -- including these useless banal lines. accept that people will struggle to press their notions of assistance into your hands. as at a banquet, take what is nourishment, ignore the rest.

forgive us if everything we say is wrong. we never knew what else to do.

accept only our love and please forgive the rest.


At 6:02 AM , Anonymous mindspin said...

When I was sad once, a friend sent me an mp3 recording of a song sung by Holly Cole. Its sentiment seemed just what I needed to hear from a friend, and I always think of it when I am trying to be one.

Cry if you want to
I won't tell you not to
I won't try to cheer you up
I'll just be here if you
want me to be near you.

Many here are as near as hearts can be as you wade deepest grief.

I know your pain will be deeper than people see, and you will be grappling with it longer than those who have never been broken hearted will anticipate. There is no way out but through, and wading grief is terrific work, so cut yourself every sort of slack you can - for a long time.

I would wish you one gift of the soul. My prayer is that your grief will not swallow sunsets or the softness of cat's fur or the goodness of watching your little daughter at play or asleep, at least not entirely or perpetually. Small joys and great pain can coexist. Daily rituals, kindnesses, beauties, memories, community and love will sustain you, though not at every moment. Be present to them when you can in the midst of all.

At other times, let grief be grief because this cannot be otherwise. Cry if you want to. The broken hearted know that this will still happen one sunny afternoon two or three or four years from now, out of the blue, and especially at 3:00 a.m.

We'll just be here if you want us to be near you.

For now, I know you just want to be with your husband while there is life, to the edge of goodbye. This is where words fail and "I'm-so-sorrys" fall as tears.

I don't think death ends a love like yours. Sacred things never die.

At 8:15 AM , Anonymous mindspin said...

One more thing - I hope I am doing right things and not wrong ones. This is a love song for all seasons. In it I hope you find strength and peace, because you are dancing your beloved to the end of love. You have given this greatest gift one human being can give to another.

Dance Me To The End Of Love
by Leonard Cohen

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic 'til I'm gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone
Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon
Show me slowly what I only know the limits of
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on
Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long
We're both of us beneath our love, we're both of us above
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the children who are asking to be born
Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn
Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I'm gathered safely in
Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

At 10:38 AM , Blogger PowerProf said...

My heart goes out to you. There are no words for thi -- be strong; we're all thinking of you

At 12:02 PM , Anonymous Lauren said...


At 4:25 PM , Blogger Dean Dad said...

I'm so sorry.

At 6:08 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to you...god (or whatever) bless.

At 5:44 AM , Blogger academic coach said...

O Dorcasina, I've been relatively absent from blogs and just finished reading all of your posts since mid-october when I went into hibernation. I'm so very sorry - and wish that I had an email address to send more personal thoughts.


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