Saturday, April 9, 2011

Balancing Grief and the Checkbook

I grabbed the envelope on my way back from Cheyenne's noon walk. Rain was just beginning to fall in earnest, it was grey and chilly, and she was pulling on the leash, ready to head in, so I paid little attention to it. I glanced the Texas seal on the front and assumed it was something for work, so I took it upstairs and opened it without looking at it again and pulled out the document absentmindedly. And there it was. It was the renewal form for Kelsey's driver's license. And there was one of those moments I would imagine every parent who has experienced a loss has now and again. That gotcha moment, where it's like someone punched you in the gut while dropping a ten-ton building on your head.  You never really know what's going to do it to you, and when or where you will be when it happens, or even why it'll hit you that way.  It just will.  Somehow seeing that evidence of her existence in that simple, auto-generated form in my hands did it to me then.

I handle those moments better now than I used to, but I was still tempted to pack it in for the day, curl up in a ball and watch some long, long, preferably violent movie on TV. But, it was the middle of the workday; I had not only work to do, but also lots of personal paperwork to go through to be able to get ready for Mom's last tax return. So, I took a break and ate lunch away from my desk, taking the downtime to watch squirrels frolic in the cold rain (gotta love squirrels, they scamper about no matter what is going on with the weather) and then got back at it.

I won't lie. The company didn't get my best efforts the rest of the day, but I made up for I think by working through the hockey game, even though by then I was tipsy, so we will wait to see how good that work really is. But, the point is, life keeps coming at you no matter what you are feeling. You can't go to the zoo everyday. At some point you have to work to pay the zoo membership.

For parents of children with ED, that's something you grapple with early on. You're trying to deal with handling this complicated disease you really don't understand (because, face it, unless you suffer/ed from it, you really can't), taking your child to a whole series of professionals most likely, fighting with the insurance company almost certainly, worrying over their education in the midst of the disease and trying to coordinate with educators who only see your child as a problem, dealing with the psychological ramifications this all has on the rest of the family, and then the utilities come due. Or you're out of milk. I've blogged about that before. Comparatively speaking, this is probably easier. It's quieter. The Beast is a loud monster roaring destruction through your life. Grief is slow and silent, yet equally destructive.

Yet that's the way of things. If I want the electricity to be able to sit here on the computer while the heater kicks in to chase away the soggy grey, I have to pay for that service. And to make that happen, I have to work. It's simple. I can't fall apart every time something tweaks me. Yet it isn't simple. I understand my husband's pain and desire to fold into himself and away from a job where people constantly brought him their minor little complaints and presented them as though the sky was falling. But, if we all did that, all of us who have ever suffered loss, where would the world be? No, you can't do that. You cannot retire from life and its obligations. And maybe that's what helps propel you through the process. Maybe that's a good thing. If you have to work, if you have to get up and have somewhere to be every day and people who rely on you to perform, that gets you past all of this sooner rather than later.

Bottom line, you have to find your "zoo spot" and allow yourself indulgences to begin to feel life and the joy of it again, but you cannot ignore the daily grind to do it. The work gets you to the play. I would ask my husband, a year gone from leaving his job, if doing that really made his grief more bearable? Of course, as I would ask it, I would have to remember, I tore the family apart to move clear across country, and quit the job I had to do it. And, if I didn't remember it, I'm sure he would remind me of it.

For now, I've got some work to do. Then later I'm off to see that violent movie.

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