Monday, October 24, 2011
So I’ve come to realize that PMS and Profound Grief are not a winning combination.
Of course I’d gladly embrace the former every day of my life to be spared the latter, but that’s not a choice that’s mine to make. Last week I found myself silently railing, to no one in particular-- random cars driving down the road, strangers in the grocery store-- “Blank you and the horse you rode in on!” I don’t really even understand that expression, except, of course, its intent, but I was spewing it, inside my head, again and again. I found this slightly troubling yet liberating at the same time.
I remember reading “The Green Mile” years ago and being taken aback by the warden’s sweet wife, who was dying of cancer, as she spewed out every epithet in the book. Such was the depth of her suffering. I wondered how she could have the thoughts to formulate those words, when she had probably not used them in her entire life.
Now I realize I do not even know what the vocabulary of my grief will be. Ugly words? Ugly thoughts? Soothing words? Edifying thoughts? We will see, day by day by day.
When people say how strong I am, I don’t know how to respond. Because all I am doing is getting out of bed and trying to function through the day. I am eating. I am laughing. I am crying. I don’t feel that I am any stronger than someone else who does stay in bed. And, really, who knows what tomorrow will bring?
23 years ago, when my mom died suddenly, I was 18 and had just come home for summer break. Three days later, I got a job hostessing at the local restaurant where our family had eaten 3-4 nights a week ever since Mom decided she was fed up with cooking.
So that summer I pulled on my jean miniskirt, laced up my Keds, and smiled and joked my way through my shifts. I stayed busy during the days and wandered the house crying at night. It’s just what I did. My father, brother, and sister did things differently, and that was okay, too.
Tim, who misses Jack terribly, has found comfort in being with people. Watching baseball, football, playing cards or going out for a beer. Getting together with a group of neighbors to discuss where God is in all of this. In the first days and weeks after the accident, I couldn’t understand why my normally shy husband was becoming a social butterfly. He went to museums. He wanted to have people over. He had a catch with friends. I wondered, ungraciously, “Does he miss Jack or does he miss having a catch?”
He took another friend geo-caching, which was our family’s favorite hobby. Huh? When we talked about it, it became clear that Tim likes being in a group because it is a welcome distraction. Being with friends buoys him up, even when they aren’t talking about Jack. And doing the things he did with Jack, such as going to a cherished geocaching spot or watching a baseball game, helps him feel closer to Jack.
Me? I don’t want to be in a large social setting right now, even though that is more in my nature than Tim's. It's too hard to be with people talking about toenail polish, standardized tests and the like. I know that will get more bearable, but for now I would rather be with just a few people who are willing to talk about Jack. I want people to know that talking about Jack isn’t going to “remind” me of what we have lost. Believe me, we know.
I also find great solace in messages on facebook and comments on this blog letting me know people are praying for us, even when I don’t have the energy for face to face contact or to write back. These gifts from you are accessible to me any time during the day or night.
In the week ahead, with lots of “firsts” coming up, such as our treasured Halloween parade and trick-or-treating, we wonder how we will navigate them. Tim suggested maybe standing at a different parade spot with different people, while I want to say at “our” parade spot of 12 years. Who knows what we'll do?
Despite our different personalities and grieving styles, which we are grateful to be able to understand and express to each other, both Tim and I LOVE to hear how God is working in people’s lives as a result of Jack’s life and death. If you have something like that to share, I hope you will.
Sometime in the past year, as we were getting out of the car, Jack said to me, “I think I may want to be a missionary, but I might be too shy.”
Margaret replied, “I don’t ever want to be a missionary. They have TERRIBLE toilets!”
Fairly accurate statement, I suppose.
I told him there are ways of being a missionary even if you are shy.
Perhaps, through the way he is still touching people’s lives right now, Jack is getting to be a missionary without ever having to say a word.