Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Surreal Summer (or Suddenly Single)

The summer of 2009 after we lost our daughter was and always will be the most bizarre, surreal and awful season I have ever endured.  A lot of it is a blur actually that I recall at all because I was blogging incessantly, but when I wasn't stumbling around in some sort of odd thin-skinned trance or pounding away at the computer, I was often trying to cope with these overwhelming feelings that this actually could not really be happening to me.  I would just be hit like a beach in a Tsunami at the oddest times (at a stop light, standing in line at a store and so on) by this sense that the whole thing was some sort of really bad dream and surely I would wake up from it soon.  Or I would just know that some sort of horrible mistake had been made, and the real Kelsey would be found somewhere.  I dreamt about that a lot that summer and into the fall actually - not always happily.   I guess if you're trying to label it, I was in a dissociative fugue a lot of the time.  I just could not accept that "this" was really happening to me.  "This" kind of stuff happened to other people, fictional people - like on Law and Order.  

But of course it did happen to me, and gradually that surreal - almost dizzying - sense of unreality faded and acceptance began to settle in.  And I guess I thought that meant nothing would really stun me again.  Granted, I have had, and do have, weak moments.  I would often find myself mildly, almost disdainfully, surprised when bad things would still happen, sort of like you don't have to go back to the Hunger Games if you survive the Hunger Games once already, that's just not fair.  Or if I lost my temper or acted badly about something, I'd be sort of surprised at myself that I hadn't reached some sort of loftier outlook forged from the fire of my loss.  And, of course, the occasional shock when I might perceive someone as being mean to me because "don't they know" what I've been through and they should cut me some slack.  But, aside from those weak moments and thoughts, which sound selfish because they are, mostly I kind of expected from myself that I would and could endure anything else Life threw at me because it had thrown the biggest curve ball of all already.  Well, whoever is on the mound currently is pitching one hell of a mean game and trying really hard to strike me out.

I mean, it would be a brutal summer under any circumstances - which, if I were to write it all down and send it in to Tina Fey and request that she write me a screenplay about my life this summer, could actually be amusing to an outside observer, I'm sure.  But it's happening to me for real, so I'm not laughing.  Just as one potential comedic example, both TV's going out at once, Greg fixing them both and then the main one in the sports cave going back out the day before he leaves.  Great comedic potential there, right?  Ha ha.  So, there's this sneaking sense of the unreal back again already now added to the fact that a few minutes ago my husband of 29 years pulled out of the driveway and - boom - I am not sure exactly when I will see him again.  Just like that.

And I not only agreed to this.  It is in large part the seed I planted.  And I do support it.  All the stuff I said to him when I was trying to convince him I was okay with it is still all very true.  I reasoned with myself long before I said it to him that my mother lived without my father for years.  Every moment of every day she was not really sure if someone would roll up to her curb in an official government vehicle to tell her she'd just become a widow.  So, if she could endure that, then I could and should be able to withstand a couple of years of a spouse living in relative safety 1,400 miles away.   Yet, inevitably, when that spouse tells you he's choosing to go, there is a virtual punch to the stomach that you take.  That's sort of natural.  If you didn't feel that, then it would mean you don't care, right?  But your job is now to support the choice like you said you would and swallow all the hard feelings, which will run the gamut:  anger - sort of in general at the situation, not really focused in on any one person or thing, fear - a lot of that actually and about everything from how the leaves are going to get raked to how to handle loneliness and support oneself and a household, and even a bit of excitement to see if you can do it.   Like an adventure, can you live completely on your own when you've been part of a couple for a really long time?  It's a messy potpourri of feelings and emotions as someone packs up their life to head away from you, and you have to realize that, while the plan is for you to see them again, you might not.  Things happen.  So this whole sense of surreal begins to wash over me again in a way I never thought it could again.  I am sure for Greg it is the same.

There are many morals to the story.  The one I was most struck by this morning is that many long term couples fall into an acceptance of their life and their marriage and take it for granted.  However, Life can strike with that wicked curve ball at any time, so we ought to be grateful everyday for our companion and thank them for the fact that they keep swinging on our team every chance we get.

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