Wednesday, February 15, 2006


I dreamed my husband was alive. In my dream, he was as sick as he was near the end of his life: emaciated, his body ravaged by tumors. But despite dismal prognoses, he was alive, and we were discussing strategies for more aggressive treatments.

It was an ordinary day, for us.

And then, as in a bad short story, I woke up.

And I am alone all over again.


At 8:10 AM , Blogger OTRgirl said...

Ugh. It is awful to have to re-do the shock of loss over and over.

(I don't know if these little stories I tell you are helpful or totally annoying. It helped me to hear what others had gone through, but it may just be aggravating for you. I fully acknowledge that loss of a parent and loss of a spouse are completely different. Mostly I just want to listen.)

My mom used to show up in my dreams alot. I would look at her and say, "But you're dead! You can't be here." And she would negotiate for the right to be in the dream. She almost always looked the way she did in the end: little knit caps, bald head, emaciated, but beautiful.

Every so often, even 8 years later, she still shows up in a dream. In the dream reality she's been alive the whole time she just didn't tell me. I get so mad that I wasted so much emotion, and think about the reality that now I'll eventually have to do it all again, but this time no one will be sympathetic.

Dreams are strange.

At 9:56 AM , Blogger Dorcasina said...

I love the stories. Since perhaps the most awful part of this is the isolation, it helps to be reminded, over and over, that I am not the only one singled out for such pain (even though I have plenty of evidence to the contrary, I persist in my solipsism). And thank you for mentioning the anger. I have dreams--which I have censored--in which I am angry with my husband, so angry, for leaving me, for not fighting harder, for getting sick in the first place. I know they are both totally "normal" and yet they are so painful (I'm crying as I write this)--how could I blame him, even in a dream? How could I be angry at *him* given his suffering, and how hard he worked to be with us as long as he could? So then I hate myself, even though I know I'm not supposed to.

So thank you for listening, and for responding, and for understanding, most of all.

At 11:34 AM , Blogger blog, the magnificent ferret said...

For years after my dad died, I'd have dreams that we'd come across him in some out of the way place, the convenience store of a gas station in a town I'd never been to. And my reaction would be, "Hey! You're not dead after all! You've just been hanging out in this convenience store!" And then I'd try to figure out how to tell him that Mom had remarried . . . and how to tell Mom that Dad was still alive.

And then I'd wake up and realize it wasn't true after all and just feel sad again. It was a little like waking up thinking it's the weekend and realizing it's really only Thursday - not a new trauma but a realization that you haven't escaped the old trauma.

A couple of times, though, I did realize that I was dreaming. But my reaction was "Oh. Maybe I can stay with you for just a few more minutes until I have to wake up again."

It's been almost 14 years for me, but I can't talk about any of it without tearing up. I haven't dreamed about him for at least a year . . . which makes me sadder than any of the dreams ever did.

Love and prayers to you and your daughter.

At 11:49 AM , Blogger snickollet said...

Yet one more thing to add to the list of unfair things that go along with cancer and death and grief. Does that list of unfair things ever end?

I find that there are times when I get angry at GH *now*. Just like you, Dorcasina, I'm angry at him for being sick, angry that he can't cure himself, angry that he's going to leave me alone with our babies-to-be. Or I'm angry at smaller things: that he can't do more around the house. That I have to be the one to make the appointment with the electrician, visit the daycare centers, refill prescriptions, pack lunches, make travel plans. Then I get even *more* angry with myself for being angry at him! They man has terminal cancer. It's not like he doesn't want to do more. He CAN'T. It's a really vicious cycle.

It's frustrating, for me at least, not to have someplace tangible to direct my anger. What I'm really mad at is cancer. But I don't find it very satisfying to yell at cancer or shake my fist at cancer. Too abstract. I want a physical version of cancer that I can beat to a bloody eff-ing pulp with my bare hands.

At 5:58 PM , Anonymous flossie said...

I am very sorry for your loss. I hope you're finding at least a little relief from isolation with your blog. I felt very isolated after my dad died 7 years ago (I was 26, and not many of my friends had had a parent die--actually that is still the case) and I remember the isolation of the experience was one of the hardest things.

I still dream about my dad and I think I am aware I am dreaming because I'm always very happy to see him and know that his visit will be brief.


At 8:43 PM , Blogger Yankee T said...

Awakening from those dreams is what I call the "cold, gray light of dawn". I've had them, too, although about my father who was old and suffering from dementia, so not as tragic as your loss. And the anger, oh how the anger must leave you torn. I'm sorry, again. And I admire your bravery.

At 3:41 AM , Blogger Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

My sister died about four years ago. She died very suddenly. She was 30.

I have dreams where she's sitting on the couch at my mom's. I'm on the other end. It is so vivid that I can feel her sit on my feet like she used to.

We were having a completely normal family thing -- and then when Iook back at her, she's gone. Nobody but me seems to think this is odd.

I think the worst part of the first year she was dead was the new realization every morning that she was dead. It has lessened a bit over the last few years, but it is still hard...

There is some more about this on my blog -- probably in the late fall archives. Her birthday was 10-27 and she died the day after Thanksgiving...

I wish you love and support. I can't speed up time, or I'd do that for you as well.

At 9:35 AM , Blogger OTRgirl said...

One of my Mom's deepest gifts to me was to make it ok for me to feel anger. Most women friends I have feel horribly guilty every time they get angry. In my mind, the anger is a fact, not a fault. The question is always what gets done with the anger. When it settles into bitterness, despair, or self-pity it's been misdirected. Anger is the energy toward something. We just have few outlets when the situation is unchangeable.

Some of my weird outlets: buying dishes from a thrift store and throwing them against a wall (then cleaning up). Writing out all the angry/rejected/abandoned feelings, then ripping them and making a nest that I burn. For the first two anniversaries I made memory books. Calligraphy with depressing quotes: "The world's more full of weeping than we can understand" --GM Hopkins. "Pain enters me drop by drop." --Sappho

Like I said though, most of those outlets seem freaky, or threatening when I tell friends about them. But if you just swallow the anger, and feel guilty for having it, it settles into depression.

Sorry if I'm stating the obvious...

At 10:24 AM , Blogger Dorcasina said...

Thanks to all of you for the incredible support, good thoughts, and reminders of wisdom. This community comforts me more than I could have thought possible.

otr girl, I think your point about anger can *never* be made too often. I'm generally okay with owning my anger, as long as it's directed at "healthy" people. This kind of grief/anger *is* freaky, and I think your coping strategies sound mighty sane. My husband suffered from chronic depression when I met him--the result of years and years and years of swallowed and unrecognized anger. I still worry that at the end, there was anger he had not recognized or expressed.

Snickolet: Oh, god. I know, I know, I know what you mean. The illness exacerbated a trend in our marriage (me: "doing"; him: "dragging his feet") and I know that I was so, so angry many times while he was alive, at the cancer, but however unfairly, also at him. The alternative to anger, for me, was almost always fear and the gaping terror of a life of I have now. I am so sorry that anyone else ever has to feel that way.

At 7:13 AM , Blogger Yankee T said...

Just checking back hoping that today is a slightly better day. I wish I could help.

At 6:16 AM , Blogger academic coach said...



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home