Tuesday, May 20, 2014
The past three nights have been rough. I am experiencing rapid heartbeats again which prevented me from getting a good night sleep. Why do I have these panic attacks just when I am trying to sleep?
I thought I have dealt with my grief the right way. For the past months, I had allowed myself to wallow in my misery. When Ken died, all I did was talk and write about him. It kept him alive - the memories, the laughs, the good times, and even the bad times. I have photos of Ken around the house, in my tablet, as my screensaver. I turned on my computer and say hi to him. I asked him to help me get through the day. He may be gone, but he is in my sight at all times.
I would drive around the county tracing back the road where we have been while listening to his favorite songs. It was hard at first, but now I find it strangely comforting. I conjured him up, I think of what he might say if he was with me - although it cannot be as funny and spontaneous as Ken would have put it.
I also blogged about him incessantly and even though the pain didn’t totally retreat, somehow, it lost its hold on me … until evening comes.
Perhaps because I always end up playing the “what if” game in my mind each night. Once I let it in, it consumed me. I was not so much exhausted with the process of grief, but more about how busy my mind has become with everything but that. I would lay awake at night going over and over How, Why, or What if. I became obsessed, convinced that if I worked out How, I could have change the event and he would still be alive. I also think of all the times I did not tell him I loved him or hugged him, for it is never enough now that he is gone.
It’s almost three months since Ken died but I don’t miss him any less. I can still trace the crater where he once stood. Although slowly I have come to embrace the awful moments, the sad moments, the inevitable times when I remember he’s no longer at the end of the phone, or at the VFW playing cards, or driving somewhere around town.
I am hopeful though that sadness, like everything, is not permanent.
Jim and I will visit you on Memorial Day, Ken. Till then.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Cleaning out Ken’s closet presented a significant challenge. It's amazing how much clothes he accumulated over the years.
It became obvious to me that before I met him he liked seeing an overstuffed closet because it mean he can put off doing laundry one more day. Actually, Ken rarely shops, but when he does, he always end up buying more clothes than he can wear.
As I was taking each item out, I cried and was blind sighted by grief. It is because I find mementos of things we did together in the pockets of his shirt and jackets - ticket stubs, handwritten notes, receipts and toothpicks. Yes, lots of toothpicks. As I went through each item, certain memories came to mind. I savored these memories and allowed myself to drown in whatever feeling it manifests.
My tears turned into sobs and smiles into laughter. And it felt perfectly okay.
I knew I have to give away his clothes, shoes, and other personal item because seeing them in his closet was more than I could bear. They gave the impression that he would be back. But of course, he won't.
By the way, when I say “cleaning out the closet,” it is not just the bedroom. It included his work office, the garage, the basement, the shop and the pile of papers that have accumulated since he died.
I started boxing up his belongings. Every shirts, and pants, and vests and jackets. I packed every bit of his that remained.
Or so I thought.
When I looked at the basement closet I saw an organized chaos that comprise the packed spaced room. More work clothes, boots, more jackets. It was evident that he had not accessed the basement closet in years. And yet Ken had held on to these things because he was trying to hold on to pieces of his past, much like I was attempting to hold on to pieces of his.
I did not start small. I hauled everything all at once because this is something that must not be repeated. It is an action of permanence. Once these items are removed, they are removed completely. Whether I decide to have a garage sale, donate them to charity, or give them to a friend, they will immediately be put to use by those who need them.
But there were things I couldn't, and wouldn't, part with. The no-brainers were the books from his childhood with inscriptions from his parents. Personal correspondence stayed, and so did name badges for events he attended and old greeting cards. The army jacket, now hangs in my closet next to my own clothes. Very occasionally, I bury my nose in it.
I did not realize that sorting through tangible memories can be more difficult than grappling with the intangible ones. They can shape and reshape memories in my head.
I guess objects, in their very concreteness, tell a more relentlessly truthful story.
Friday, May 2, 2014
Those of you who had been following my blog would have noticed that I began to write a little bit every week after Ken died. That's because I want to record my current state of emotions. I am not embarrassed to openly express my feelings because they are real and writing about them is something that provided me with an excellent emotional outlet. I wrote some, cried some, reread and cried some more each time I returned to write another post.
You may ask if that's how I am healing my grief. Well, I would be quick to point out that I am doing much more than write. I am taking long walks, driving around the countryside, taking care of things at home and surrounding myself with loving friends and family. You name it, I used every tool available. I also kept on reviewing pictures, slide shows, mementos, letters and cards that will elicit pain because having these feelings helped draw out the anguish in my heart which will ultimately contribute to healing my grief. I do not strive to "get over it" or " move on" from Ken's death. Instead, I woke up each morning confident that Kenny is walking with me into each new adventure I face.
It took some time for me to get here, but I have learned how to walk with my grief. Perhaps because I felt the love and support of many as I moved forward into new days and weeks.
I would like to mention those who have helped me a great deal through this process.
First and foremost are Mick and Patrick. Their support has always been so quiet, unassuming and steady, and I know they would hate me to shout from the rooftop about it. But I have always felt their encouragement, their unconditional acceptance of my choices and the comfort of their presence. While they are sharing the same grief, they continually offer their love and understanding which has meant more to me than I can express.
To Tom, Mike, Randy, Greg and Lisa: While I don’t see you as often as I would like, I want you to know that I thank all of you for embracing me into the family. Please let me know if there is any way I can bring kindness and light into your own life the way you did for me.
I thank those who reached out, who periodically checked on me, dropped by, or sent me wonderful messages. Special shout-out to my family who were with me every step of the way - and still are. I pray for the blessings for what all of you have done and continue to do.
And last but not the least, to Jim. You are a miracle. I don't know any other way to explain how much help you have been lately. You probably helped more than you think you did.