Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Observations from the Field

Okay, so let's do another status check. At this juncture, we're staring at three months now since we lost our oldest daughter. So far, I have been sick, not just sniffly sick, but really gut wrenching, aches and pain sick three times. I'm not sure why, but my immune system is seemingly kaput. There is another woman in our office who is undergoing cancer treatment and is, as a result, susceptible to everything. She asked our help to keep her away from errant germs by telling her if we're under the weather so she can take precautions and where a mask. I had to stick a note on her cube early this morning, making sure to pin it up there before she got there and could be exposed to anything. I felt a little like Typhoid Mary. Every time I sneezed I worried about what I was spewing out there, but staying home wasn't really an option.

I was watching King Kong for a while tonight while I answered e-mails because I couldn't get a particular scene out of my head all day. I kept thinking about the scene where the men were on the island running along with the stampeding dinosaurs being chased by Velociraptors and round a corner to find themselves skirting a high ledge. It's actually a bad scene in a good movie. One of the few times in a Peter Jackson movie where I can tell I'm watching special effects (since he got the big budgets anyway), but it seems apropos to my life here at home. I feel as though I'm running along a ledge, ready to have something push me over at any moment or, failing that, eat me for a snack. I have no control over my own actions. This may be in part because my husband is right: I have filled my plate way too full. His comment the other day was that I can't seem to leave myself a spare moment. My assignment from our grief counselor was to take it easy and just relax twenty minutes each day. I did him one better on Saturday and sat placidly throughout the entire Penn State game. Then, the next day I sat all the way through the Steeler game, only not so placidly. Look where that got me. Both teams lost games they shouldn't have. So, I have to say, relaxation seems overrated.

I'm a little thin skinned these days. More so than early on I think - maybe others would not agree. I'm not sure why exactly, but suspect it has to do with being tired, over-taxed, sick and my Steelers are 1-2. I find myself snapping at the dogs - who loyally stand by and take whatever I dish out. If they're hurt by my actions, they don't let on. Cheyenne, my closest companion, just seems to take it as her queue to snuggle closer and try and comfort me. That usually shames me into behaving better for a while, and leaves me covered in dog fur for my troubles. The thing about animals is they don't give up on you. I need to remember that and not give up on them either.

I think the other thing that has me a little stressed is that life is marching inexorably on, and I'm not really ready to jump all the way back in yet. But, to a large extent, I have no choice. My mother's condition requires a lot of attention. I whined at my case manager yesterday about the number of calls I have to take at work about her (I was contacted five separate times yesterday alone). She didn't really have any words of comfort, just reality. At Mother's age and in her particular condition, that is not going to stop. With the sudden rains, the yard, all nearly two acres of it, needs mowed, but it gets dark earlier, so it's getting mowed in stages - by the time I get all the way around, I'll have to start over again. And why didn't I stay in Montana where the grass would be dormant by now? There are bills to pay and groceries to buy and affairs to handle. But, I don't think the fact that I'd really rather not matters to anyone but me and probably Greg, but life just won't put on the brakes for me. It vexes me. Or at least it does today. But, try as I might to dig in and tackle all of these things, I seem stuck in quick sand. I struggle and struggle, but only seem to sink further and further behind. As a result, I think I'm vexing people back. I think the people who expect or need me to be there for them are getting a little impatient with my ineptitude (my word, not theirs). Maybe it's just me, and they are far from it. I think I project my own sense of failure onto the words and actions of others, and read more into it than is really there. It's something I've always had to be mindful of, but everything seems exaggerated at the moment.

And then there's Greg. We're skirting that same edge on Skull Island, but as often happens in a panic situation, it's every man for himself. He's really struggling with anger and guilt. He misses his daughter. A lot. Occasionally, that frustration snaps in my direction. I'm not all that understanding anymore when it does. Nor do I care all that much if that hurts him. He seems to forget, I tell myself in a self righteous huff, that I lost a daughter too. So, we live separate lives under the same roof more lately. I know he hurts, I just don't have much left to give him.

Tomorrow I may feel differently. I may be able to step back from the precipice a little and find something to laugh at or enjoy (although, I have to tell you, at 1-2, that's not all that likely), but even that will seem arbitrary and out of my control because I know another evening like this one will be lurking somewhere. Some days are better than others? In actuality, for a grieving parent, I think the better term is some days are worse than others. But, I think it's important to chronicle these down times as well as the little upward trends. I think I want every parent to know what it is to feel what I feel so they can cherish their sons and daughters a little more. This sucks, ladies and gentlemen. Don't get on this roller coaster ride if you can help it. Be a better parent. Better than what? Better everyday than you were the day before. Better than Greg or I. Better than you think you can be. To avoid a night like this one, it will be worth the effort.

1 comment:

  1. You may be feeling stuck or in quicksand because you are trying to do too much. When you have a list of a 100 things, getting one or two done, doesn't seem all that much like progress. So don't. Not right now. You are not at the top of your game right now and you have the added responsibility of your mom. So, don't let your list get over, say, seven. Seven for the week. Maybe pick just one thing (or a third of a thing) to do a day. Oh, and make one of the things, something for you - 1. Go to the library and get a book. 2. Go to the Blanton Museum. Just try it for a week and see how it feels. You can always go back to having the 100 item list if you don't think it is helping. You are in my thoughts. - V