Tomorrow my daughter and I head to visit family in my home state. We'll be there for the week including Christmas, and then I am off to Major League Conference where I get to meet ABDMom
and BH and the exuberant Pistola. Sadly, I will not be bringing my daughter to MLC, because I strongly suspect she and Pistola would blow that joint open.
Still, I'll be on the other side of the job search this time around, helping interview potential colleagues in the field adjoining my own, with some lovely department members and a medium sized sprinkling of grad school friends there, too. Room service, cable TV, a deep bathtub (I hope) with plenty of hot water, and only one set of student essays to grade.
I'm not able to get excited about this trip, although it will be nice to hide from my real life and its losses for a while. I suspect that nowhere I go will really feel like "home" any time soon, if ever. So it doesn't really matter where I am, or who I am with--at least not right now.
But when I get back, I hope to spend some time blogging about the really extraordinary people my students have shown themselves to be. They deserve that.
And I'll talk about the big hard lump in my throat that used to happen any time I was around my in-laws. It's been dissolving rapidly. Other big hard lumps remain, but this one is, for now, almost gone. Today I sent them away with some of the good wine from my husband's memorial, and asked only that they drink one toast to him at their family holiday.
I hope there is plenty of joy, peace, and goodwill to go around the blogosphere.
Hasta the new year...
It's starting to sink in that this loss is forever. I've already donated most of my husband's clothes, not because I am callous (I kept some that I wear, some that I remember him best in, and some that have that essential smell for when I need to wallow in it), but because it has become terribly cold here, and he would want them to be used to keep people warm. I've had family members box up the things I can least bear to come across, and I am slowly reconfiguring his computer with the stuff I work on; before, I had been careful to remove all my work from his virtual desktop which, unlike his three-dimensional surfaces, he kept meticulously. I have substituted for these everyday traces a whole lot of new photos of him and of us.
It's going to be harder, I think, to forge any kind of real life for myself. My single friends think they understand what it's like, but being single felt very different back before I had chosen the person to make my life with. I can't distract myself from the grief or the loss by returning to single pursuits--I have a daughter to spend time with, babysitting hassles, and a lengthy inexperience with making plans for myself alone. It's a lot of work to stay busy and fulfilled when one is single (if not by choice), and in my case, my sorrow and resentment at having to make plans, set up outings, and arrange the necessary pieces to make them happen feels overwhelming. A very kind colleague has invited me to an occasional cultural event, but can't possibly realize how impossible even that evening out, with its various requirements (getting dressed without asking my husband for advice; finding a sitter I trust; agonizing over leaving my daughter when she spends so much time away from me anyway; and, looming largest of all, having to find the energy to go into someplace new Alone, and to have to Make Conversation) sounds.
I don't want to go out by myself. And that includes going places with friends.
My married friends are equally kind, but it's hard to ask them to forgive the part of me that hates them, that is so very angry that they still have a spouse, while mine is gone. It's painful to be a "threesome," and to have to have one conversation, where before we were couples and could pair off and then regroup. They are too generous to mention it, and perhaps it doesn't even enter their minds, but I have become a perpetual extra person, sensitive to the fact that "everyone else" is pretty much partnered off. At least, those who want to be. Their pairings make me even more conscious of the absence I carry with me everywhere, palpable as a tear.
Dressed in Mourning
A new, more somber template for my new, more somber life. The polka dots were too goddam festive.
Of course, without my husband to advise me, I messed something up and lost my blogroll.
Fortunately, I know who my friends are. Someday, perhaps, I will have the energy to reconstruct them here.
I spent over an hour today with tech support trying to figure out how to keep my internet connections. I feel like such a fool; my husband allowed me to live beyond my technical means.
And beyond my emotional means, too.
I'm not sure I can do any of this on my own.
The Cruelest Month
Nov. 13, 2005. The day my world ended. Dec. 13, 2005. I am still here, yet not.
It's been exactly a month, now, that I've been alone. I can't decide whether time has sped or crawled by; some of each, I imagine.
I feel guilty when I feel nothing. I feel guilty when I feel angry. I feel guilty when I forget to feel devastated. I hate happy people. I want to be alone in my misery; I don't want to be by myself.
I want to have fun and forget, for a few minutes, that my life is in ruins; I feel worse when I catch myself having even the faded resemblance of a good time.
I wear something of his every day. I am desperately afraid that I will forget what he looked like, how his voice was.
I am terrified that I am already used to being alone, even when other people surround me.
One of my lovely and wise commenters mentioned Donald Hall's poems about his wife's death. I write haiku in my head constantly now--the effort of compressing inarticulable feelings into a finite number of syllables is not soothing, but it is distracting.
I have never been a poet. I won't be one now.
I miss him. I miss my old self. I want the world to stop since he is not here to share it with me.
I still cry unexpectedly.
from a wise friend.
The beloved doesn't
need to live. The beloved
lives in the head. The loom
is for the suitors, strung up
like a harp with white shroud-thread.
He was two people.
He was the body and voice, the easy
magnetism of a living man, and then
the unfolding dream or image
shaped by the woman working the loom
sitting there in a hall filled
with literal-minded men.
As you pity
the deceived sea that tried
to take him away forever
and took only the first,
the actual husband, you must
pity these men: they don't know
what they're looking at;
they don't know that when one loves this way
the shroud becomes a wedding dress.
In Which I Rage at the Universe
I. Want. My. Life. Back.
None of our pathetic attempts to give death meaning make the slightest bit of difference. Gone is gone. I dropped out of physics, but now I know what a black hole is.
I don't want any fucking "new normal." I want my old normal. I want my life that had meaning and made sense and was shared with the man I chose, and who chose me.
I want to be my husband's Wife again.
I fucking hate being a "single" woman. I hate leaving work without anyone to come home to. I hate the loneliness that follows a good marriage. it's entirely different to be "post"-married than to be pre-married.
I Want Him Back. I have no one to talk to, because I only want to talk to my husband. I am lonely for him every minute of every hour of every day. I wake up crying.
I send myself emails from his old account, just to see his name in my inbox.
I agonize over the things I would have shared with him. How can they go on without him?
Is for deep sorrow, with intermittent periods of despair.
For many people, I think Sunday's celebration marks a certain closure. There will be sadness, and memories, but they can now begin that work I hear described alternately as "healing" or "scarring over" the wound.
For me, the hard part starts now. I no longer have the daily tasks to do "for him," and "to honor him." Now I have...nothing. At least, nothing that I want.
Grief is exhausting and unpredictable and utterly debilitating. In a world where we strive to manage
everything, grief is one of the few reminders that we control nothing of any importance. No wonder we've all but banished it from our culture.
At many times, I feel as if my grief marks me, defines me, precedes me into a room. Then at other times I long for that "symbol" that could identify me with my grief, like the widow's weeds of long ago, and could insulate me from the managed world. My symbol would say to the world, "I am Grieving. I cannot be sane. I have lost what matters most. Handle me with care--but do not be too kind to me."
A First Farewell
This afternoon, we will hold a memorial/celebration of my husband. I hope it will be simple, beautiful, painful, and followed by a certain euphoria.
There will be delicious food, tasty wine, and memories. We'll be near the water he loved, and near our former home, where he and I spent our happiest years together. We will be at one of the first places he and I took our new daughter.
His friends, my friends, and our friends will be there. There will be children and the lighting of candles.
The non-denominational minister who performed our wedding just three short years ago will conduct the memorial.
There will be poetry, to console me; there will be music my husband loved. There will be a "guest book" to satisfy those who find comfort in the most superficial trappings.
But the one person who could get me through this is the one who won't be there with me.
This is going to be a very, very long day.
I have the best friends
1. Several of them call me daily, biweekly, weekly, just to let me know they are thinking of me, ready to hear what I need to say--or just to sit in silence with me, if that is what I need.
2. They have planned and organized what will be a beautiful memorial service and kick-ass party (I hope) to honor my husband. Many of them are coming long distances on brief trips during a hectic time to console me, and to celebrate him.
are not afraid of my sorrow; nor do they try to rush me through it or "get me over it."
4. They feed me.
5. They give me real, virtual, and long-distance hugs.
6. They miss my husband like I do--if perhaps not quite as much--and they tell me they loved him. They confirm my sense that he was, in a quiet and undemonstrative way, magnificent.
7. They are gifted writers whose words soothe, comfort, and amuse me. One sent me a card offering to "sit with you in the darkness, if that is what you need, or to move with you toward the light." That is beautiful, and speaks of true, irreplaceable friendship.
8. See (7), but some are also drop-dead funny. One of my dearest friends, who is also a damn fine writer, sent me a lovely personal email in reply to my "Crabby Widow" post. In addition to her own poignant thoughts on grief, she said this:
I give you permission (since I am the queen of the universe) to feel pain, to feel empty, lost, anesthetized, alone, broken, sad, sometimes hopeful--all of it. So tell the advocates of drive-through McGrief to leave you alone.