Thursday, April 9, 2015
It doesn't seem to matter what I do or how I try to push these feelings away they still ooze up from my cellular memories and become part of my day. The beast is circling deep and stirring the waters I guess. This grief beast no longer surfaces for long and no longer drags me down into the darker depths, but it still nips at me, has me feeling uneasy, restless and with emotions that rip through me like a polygraph needle, spiking and dipping erratically.
And the reason this always takes me by surprise is because Jim died in May, not April! When May rolls around and the anniversary of his passing comes I find myself back to normal and feeling fine again.
Grief is a very odd beast.
With this month come flashbacks too. Yes, flashbacks, as in PTSD flashbacks. I've been reminded that one doesn't need to have gone to war to have this disorder. Yesterday I went out to the house in Temple with plans to give Rosie, our new 4 month old pup, a little fun and then go for a run by myself. After I had walked with Rosie I took her in the house to settle her onto her bedding, but this little dog had other ideas. She seemed to know my plan to leave her alone and she was not going to allow this to happen today. She refused to lie on her bedding, staying close to me as I tried to get ready and out the door. I took her back to her bed and sat down beside her. I had a nice fire going in the fireplace for her but she insisted on being in my lap. There she snuggled in, wet and shivering from the long romp out in the snow we had done earlier. I pulled the old sleeping bag that is now hers up over us and she began her little purring noises.
I couldn't leave her now. I sat there with the fire going, looking out the big picture windows at the mountains and decided I didn't feel like running anyway. My motivation and my energy was gone.
Sitting there holding this little puppy I flashed on an April afternoon back when Jim was sick and he was refusing his usual afternoon nap; there were days when he just insisted on being with me every minute. This was hard for me at times, but I always gave in to him. This day we went out onto the deck in the sunshine with blankets and pillows. Propped up against the trunk of the giant Oak tree in the yard Jim fell asleep on my shoulder. We sat there for a long time and I began to quiet my mind and to relax in the moment ... since there wasn't really much else I could do. It was then I heard the drumming. Looking up I was able to locate the small Downy Woodpecker as he rapped on the dead limb high up in the tree over my head. I continued to just look up and was able to watch "my" crows come and go in the foliage, they believing they were invisible, but I was aware and seeing. I could see how the spring buds were swelling now and turning a pale pink as the sap flooded up from the roots and into the tops of the trees. As I looked up I felt terrified of what my future held for me. Terrified that this man who I loved so deeply was now reduced to being more like a child ... and I felt very alone on that spring morning.
My puppy adjusted herself and I came back to Temple. There was an odd metallic drumming happening so I looked out to the old barn where a rusty gallon drum lays on it's side. Perched on top was the bright red head of the Hairy Woodpecker and he was slamming his bill into the metal drum. It didn't seem to be attracting any females but he continued to pound out his beat for several, painful looking drills. Eventually he flew off to find a hollow log I assumed.
As the fire crackled and popped and Rosie slept I watched the gray storm clouds of the predicted snow darken and drop in over the mountain tops. I saw the first Turkey Vultures of the season soaring on the wind currents flooding off the mountain; such big birds I always think "Eagle!" But those wing tips tilted up to form a V and that distinctive wobbling back and forth pattern of their flight tells me it's the Vulture.
My attention was quickly brought to eye level as a flash of red streaked by and landed in a nearby birch tree. The male Cardinal, so needed in these north woods to brighten our spirits and offer us their geranium blossom color in this gray and white season. I flashback to a blog I had written one spring about red flags and their warning signs and how I will never let slight personality changes be passed off as anxiety or stress. Could I have saved him if I had noticed the red flags flying? Could I have changed his destiny?
Rosie stirred, awake now and I was ready to pack up and head back into town. I haven't sat quietly without a computer or cell phone or even a pad and pencil in my hands for a long time. Just me and my thoughts and my view of that wonderful world I'm so in love with these days out in Temple. I felt better, a little grounded, a little more ready to let the beast nip at me again if it must ... the memories aren't all that horrible after all. There are some really sweet ones in me. And I have this new life and new memories being created even today. I don't know how I got so blessed but I hope never to take it for granted.
This is a gift that this grief brings with it, the deep pain of real loss and the difficult flashbacks. But now there is also this whole new depth of gratitude and understanding that making this moment and this new life with the memories of today
Loving you all back,