I am in different stage of grief since Christmas. It consists of the need to be alone and think about my husband’s death; not morbidly, but the aspect of death. His death and how it affects my life, our family and me. Most of all it is how it never stops forcing me to accept ownership of a life alone. Sometimes this is frightening. Being alone isn’t frightening, though it sometimes gets old. When you live with someone almost 51 years there is a oneness that only someone who has lived with someone that long can understand. It’s like I have to finish something but can’t find out what it is.
Grief? Maybe. Pity party? Yes. Like you are in an echo cave, dark and alone. You shout out an awesome sound. Wait for the echo. It never comes. You know it won’t. You look around. You shout again. Maybe. This time just maybe it will. It doesn’t. Only the hollowness.
This doesn’t happen all that much. My faith is very strong. I know where he is. Where I am. I see him. He visits. We talk. He comforts. I see him as his Spirit Guide the eagle, ((or the hawk,) every time I walk out the door or drive. It leads me as I drive the car. It is there when I arrive. The eagle comes home with me. Follows me around the farm.
The kids say my eagle is a chicken hawk. I say OK by me. I smile. Look up and see the eagle that flies in a circle. I know what I see.
This March was the second anniversary of his death. It was a hard year.. I think it is because the numbness has worn off. Shock is gone. Reality of loss has set in. Would I wish for him to be back? No, his suffering was so ghastly horrific that I could not ask for that even as he was dying. He could not live like that. He is, I know, in a better place. I can picture him as the eagle flying above earth looking down at all the fields, rivers and land he hunted, fished and farmed. I can picture him going to all the different places he never got to see. I can picture his delight. I see him able to move his arms and legs. His eyes are clear, his earring intact. The brilliant mind, the reasoning, and the love he had of life, of the children, and the grandchildren flowing about him. The love for me; one of his eight passions: me, kids, grandkids, hunting, fishing, cars, guns and his truck. Maybe I’m not first on that list. He did love his guns, cars and boats.
In this stage of grief you become more selfish and think of yourself. I am alone. I must make the hard decisions, pay the bills, and figure out ways to make more money. Keep myself healthy. Set good examples for the kids of dignity, love, caring and support for them to follow as they go through life. I must give them twice the love I did before to help them with their missing of his love. That’s how I feel.
Yet I know that all of that will not help them when they miss their dad, their grandpa, and their friend. I know, from talking to them, that they also feel him around.
My children, grandchildren, friends, Quaker Meeting, clients, fellow writers, poets, Raeki, tarot clients, and the young man who helps me on the farm; all are my support. So is my belief in the Creator. The Great Spirit. The next dimension.
I waver sometimes between thinking I did everything I could to make his last year or two the best I could do, and thinking of all the mistakes I made and everything I did wrong.
Two things I think I could have done better. I am sure there are one billion more. But two are glaring to me now.
1. One day, when he was really bad and could not speak, and had been trying to figure out something. A way to communicate? What he had been dreaming? Not to tell me but to physically do what he had been dreaming or thinking?
. He had been sleeping. He turned over on his right side. He faced the wall with all the children’s pictures from birth to almost now. Because in some cases, the youngest daughter and grandchildren were still there as birth, young, walking, and running pictures. I never changed pictures after I got them up, just put up the older pictures somewhere else. Don’t ask.
He reached both arms to the pictures. I was tired. I asked him what he wanted, rubbed his back. He tried to reach a couple of times, then stopped. At the time I had forgotten the pictures were there, as I had forgotten everything but how to take care of him. It seemed to me he was reaching, stretching I was trying to find out what was wrong. It wasn’t until much later I realized he was reaching for the kids. He had regressed in time and I think believed that the pictures were the kids and he was back at the age when he was the father of the young ones that age. He wanted to hold them. He wanted them with him to say goodbye. Maybe he was lucid enough to want to go back in time to a better time. I didn’t know that then. I don’t know what I would have done had I realized that at the exact time; but it bothers me that I didn’t know.
He also didn’t’ recognize at my old age of 70, 71. He could tell my voice, but when he saw me he was confused. He thought every time one of our three daughters was there that it was I. Because he always saw me as young and beautiful even when I was old and not so pretty. I was never beautiful, except to him.
2. The other thing that I regret was the last time he was very clear and spoke certain words to me.
When he was sick, I never slept or ate right. I lost weight so fast that I had wrinkles and sagging skin where I didn’t before. He never recognized me. That broke my heart then and now. He was always looking around wondering where I was. I would talk; he would smile when he heard my voice. I would walk toward him and he would look puzzled sometimes; looking around for me. Occasionally he would recognize me.
Sometimes he would be himself and we could talk and laugh. That was a good day.
This last time he was coherent he said “Susie”,
“Yes.” I would respond.
“I love you.”
He said it over and over several times. Each time clearer and with more emphasis.
I responded, “I love you too.”
I was exhausted and falling asleep.
I don’t know how long this went long. I don’t know if I responded every time. I only got up and went to him once. I wrote about that in a previous blog. I picked him up and held him so tight like holding him would keep him safe and not let this terrible disease, a spinal infarction, take him from me.
It was his last clear words and thoughts and actions.
The next day I called the children, grandchildren friends and told them they had better come now to see him while there was this spark.
That is what I keep remembering. I think that is a part of my grief. Why did he have to endure that agony? A man who loved to hunt, fish, drive boats and cars, and play with his grandkids had to be given what he hated the most; lost of limbs.
That is why I cannot grieve for his death. Instead must celebrate his life. The adventures we shared, the family shared.
We kept him home with the help of Care One and his doctor. We fed, bathed, and did what the Doctor, Care One, nurse, the rehab folks told us to do until he died.
He didn’t want a nursing home. He didn’t want a funeral home. He didn’t want to have his body viewed. He hated funeral homes. He wanted to be cremated.
We did what he wanted. The children, the caregivers and I. We took the best care we knew how. Frustrated at our ineptness, frustrated sometimes at his sickness. We did our best.
We had him cremated. We had a huge carry in picnic in the summer in the yard he loved, with most of the friends he loved there to express their love and support for us. So my grief is not there. We had a goal. His goal and we did it.
Now we are in recovery. Could we have done better? Did we miss something? Yet we feel his love. Know where he is. Still are trying to complete the goals he set for us.
I feel his presence around me, hear his words, get his guidance and sometimes see him standing there. This is the second year. The numbness of his death has worn off. A friend whose husband died about the same time mentioned it was harder for her this year also. Grief is a strange partner.
So our family grief, at least, my grief is still in that dark echoless tunnel that will never return my sound.
Labels: dyiing, grief, recovering