Monday, May 14, 2012

Peaks and Valleys

I really do want to get to the War on Women because I'm a woman and I think it's something that women should be talking about, as opposed to a lot of male politicians and political pundits.  I know women are weighing in, but the main headlines I see about it are always men saying this or that about women's issues.  It's like somebody told me once:  I'll never fully understand football because I've never played it.  I know it from a different perspective, but I can't totally relate to the adrenaline rush a player feels on the field, what his view of the play is (because I can see everything clearly and know he was an idiot for not jagging left because he was totally open) or how it feels when someone tipping the scale at 300 pounds launches himself at you.  The statement made me mad at the time, but now I know it's right.  Well, men, it's like that with my "issues" - you'll never walk a mile in my shoes.  Shoot, I can't even walk a mile in the popular styles now...  Therefore, it's not in my nature to just let the topic lie.  Yet, I'm going to defer it for now and bounce back to grief, if you will.

And here's why:  almost like it was on queue, I wrapped up my little series, feeling very proud of myself for not allowing the world to swallow me whole three years ago, ready to get on with life and, lo and behold, little things here and there just started happening to test my resolve.  Therefore, I think I would be remiss if I left everyone with the impression that, once you can honestly say to yourself and others that you have battled grief and won, with scars of course, but in general walked away from the field of battle, it's all over.  Because it is not.  You have to be able to withstand the moments that will come forward and test you.

For me, as you will recall, May's a bear to begin with for me.  Mother's Day, Kelsey's birthday, Greg's birthday only a few days before Kelsey's, and this year it hit me that my parents were married 70 years ago on May 7.  Just the little extra speed bump to slow you down long enough to remind you of all the people who are no longer with you.   I know May's coming and my game plan was just to stay busy, enjoy where I am and power past it.  The Penguins did NOT do their part and went home early from the playoffs, but I've thrown myself wholly and completely into being a hater:  anti-Flyers, anti-Capitals, and that worked pretty well for me, but now with both out, I'll need to come up with a new game plan.  But, summer movies are starting, and it's going to be a tremendous crop this year, so I'm thinking to myself, "Yes, I can do this!"  Well, then real life comes along and says, "Try this on for size!" and throws something unexpected at you.

Nothing really major, I know, in the grand scheme of things:  just life happening irrespective of my feelings.  First I'll have to be out of town on business on the anniversary of Kelsey's death.  When they asked me I hesitated slightly.  I don't want to be in Texas, period.  When I crossed the state line  over a year ago, I knew I'd have to come back at some point:  somebody's wedding hopefully.  Sadly, probably somebody's funeral.  But, this will make the fourth time this year.  It's not that the whole state is cursed for me - okay, maybe it is - but I really don't want to be there on June 20.  But, that's just me.  I have no REAL reason to say no, so I said yes. Now I'll be alone in the very state I left for a specific reason on the very date I'd rather not be anywhere.  When I broke the news to Greg, his reaction didn't help.  "Don't worry about me," he said without looking at me, his gaze fixed on the television, "I'll be fine."  And the subject was concluded.  I didn't say any of the number of things it crossed my mind to say, "Asshole," being the first one that sprung to mind.  And there you have it, a prime example of the issues couples have staying together after a loss.  Grief is a greedy bastard.  I'm worried how I'm going to get through the day, he's worried about how he is, and we really aren't too concerned about the other one.

Anyway, I pouted around for a few days until gradually the sting wore off.  The day will suck no matter where or how I spend it.  I have to work one place or another.  Might as well just be in Dallas for the day as anywhere.  Maybe it's even better:  Pittsburgh is associated with better memories.  Let Texas hold the bad ones.

But, the month just seems fraught with roadblocks meant to trip me up and test me.  I knew this would happen, it's inevitable, but I never really addressed it here.  I don't want to leave readers with the impression that once you've done the majority of the processing of your grief that you're free and clear.  Neither do I want you to think, on the other hand, that you can't get past the issues that will inevitably come up.  You can.  You will.  I keep coming back to the migraine analogy because it is something I am unhappily very familiar with and it just seems so apt.  I don't get them as frequently as I used to so now when I do they really kick my butt.  All the coping skills I had when I got them as frequently as once or twice a week have abandoned me and I'm down for the count.  However, I'd rather be in my current situation than my former one.  I'd rather be laid out with one every few months than survive six or eight a month like I did for a long time.

I took myself to the zoo on Saturday.  It was a risky proposition.  It was crowded with young families - all those young moms with their kids in strollers or in their arms, pointing to this animal or that one.  Hard not to think longingly back to when your own kids were little.  But, it's a happy place for me.  I ignore the people and I focus on the animals.  Maybe they'd be happier in the wild with open space and room to roam, but they're cared for and loved here, and I think they know it.  And it was a beautiful day.  Hard to be unhappy on such a glorious day.  So, the animals and I worked it out together.  Here we all were, maybe not in the most ideal of circumstances by far, but not so far gone we couldn't just take in this moment in time.  The house didn't get clean, the work I literally had left open on the computer did not get done, and the gardening I needed to do still is waiting.   You can't do that every time something triggers your grief, but do it when you have to.  Find the place that gives you peace and go there.  It's the best I can give you right now, it's still a new state of being for me, but here I am, still standing, so it's working so far.

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