Saturday, December 30, 2006

His Legacy

This morning, I have been reading a lot of the stuff Chris wrote in the year and a half before he died. I think I am going to publish all of his writings in my book, along with my own writings from before he died, beginning with the diagnosis.

Last night, I dropped a delicious Ativan for the first time in a little while. Zoloft has been doing the trick for me, so I haven’t needed too much Ativan. However, I do love the stuff. I had forgotten that even though I have been taking it periodically, I have only been taking half of a pill, so last night I very hastily dropped an entire pill down my throat and before I knew what was happening, I had been relaxed into a state I can only remember from a time long before cancer ever entered our picture.

I must be feeling the anniversary. Last night, on two separate occasions, I actually got that old feeling that I could call Chris and ask him something. That hasn’t happened in a very long time. First, I was trying to find the boxing gym I am going to today. I know it’s near the Paradise on Commonwealth Avenue, but for a split second, I thought, “Chris will know. I’ll just ask him where the....oh....I can’t do that.” and then later in the evening, I was watching “Taxi Driver” and I couldn’t figure out whether Robert DiNero’s character was a taxi driver or a cop. I thought, “Chris knows. I’ll ask him...oh.” I always freak myself out when I do that. At my appointment with Clay the other night, and then again on the phone with Robby last night, I referred to Chris in the present tense. “Chris has a...blah blah blah.” and then I corrected myself with the past tense form of the verb.

When I read Chris’ stories, I feel like he’s right here in the room with me. His writing is every bit who he was, a nice reminder for me on those days when my memory of him feels clouded by the passage of time.

We had fun, Chris and I. Home was a silly place to be, and an emotionally safe place for me to land for the first time in my life. Family life was peaceful for the first time. I had a best friend living with me, existing with me in the same emotional and spiritual space and I loved that we shared that space, physically and emotionally.

I suppose if I am serious about finding the meaning in my life as a means for growth, I would have to begin by believing that Chris primed me for life and love and that I am now fully equipped with everything I need to bring that gift to somebody else and share life with him. I have to believe that perhaps the meaning in my life lies in bringing meaning into the lives of others and that maybe I can start by bringing to others all that Chris gave to me.

After all, I have become Chris in my own way. He lives on within me and if I choose, I have the power to show everybody who he was by projecting Chris’ beauty onto them.

Life would be better if Chris could have continued to project his beauty, himself, but as always, I’m happy to help. Even though Chris was sick and in danger of dying, my life held the most meaning and happiness when I knew I was helping him.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Finding the Meaning in my Life

Sometimes, the word of a trained professional is all I need. Clay confirmed for me, by expressing his opinion, that I probably had the flu because typically, with anxiety-induced psychosomatic symptoms, a person will feel as though she needs to vomit, but probably will not actually do so. A tremendous weight of fear and shame has been lifted from my shoulders.

I talk a big game when it comes to my ability to handle adversity and suffering in a constructive and forward-moving manner, but the truth is that sometimes I doubt that ability. Lately, I have found myself stuck right smack in the middle of the road, wanting to let go of Chris and the horrors surrounding his illness and demise, yet not entirely consciously being unwilling to release my grip on my grief. I still cannot articulate what purpose my grief serves me, but I believe I am getting something out of my reluctance to let go, otherwise, letting go would not feel so impossible.

In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl talks about the healing power of finding meaning for one’s suffering, a meaning in life. This very thought-provoking book has prompted me to question the meaning in my own life. I thought my life had meaning, but what I am realizing is that while people in my life have meaning to me, and while activities in which I participate have meaning to me, I am not aware of the actual meaning of my life, itself. When I ponder the answer to the question, I come up short.

I care about people and I want to use that quality more. I am studying psychology in order to give myself the proper tools to help others, but learning an official skill set will take time, so I am a work in progress.

Why did Chris suffer and why did I suffer Chris’ suffering and why, for that matter, do I continue to suffer the loss of my sweet husband? There are valid answers to all of these questions and there are reasons for all of the suffering of all people.

Answering that question with regard to Chris’ suffering hardly seems fair. He is no longer alive and cannot benefit from his own suffering, unless there really is another place the soul goes after life on earth. Did Chris suffer so I could learn how to give myself entirely to somebody else? That answer feels narcissistic, which shames me, but if the answer is true, it is not just true for me, but for everybody who has been hurt by Chris’ death. We have all learned and the lessons are plenty, even endless. We learned what disease looks like close up. We saw a real-life demo on how a person deals with being diagnosed with disease. We learned medical terms we never thought we would need to know. We learned, some of us for the first time, how losing a loved one feels. We learned we can go on living, and that suicide, although entertaining, is not the best option. We lost old friends we thought we would know forever and gained new ones throughout the ordeal. The lessons just go on and on and probably will for as long as we are able to learn.

My next course of action is dissecting my life, my thoughts, my beliefs and my aspirations in an attempt to uncover the meaning my life holds. There is meaning, of that I am certain. I may not be able to precisely identify that meaning at this point in time, but Victor Frenkl has opened a door for me which leads into the proverbial “great unknown.”

There is where I am headed. There is where we are all headed.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Physically or Spiritually Ill?

Marc and I ended up riding the train to Copley Square and walking to the top of Newbury Street to the North Face to pick up his jacket.

As he searched the racks, my well-being progressively became not-so-well. I grew weak and began sweating profusely and had to sit on the steps inside the store while I waited for him to chat with the salesman. I finally stood and said, “I’m going to wait outside for you. It’s really warm in here.”

As I exited the store, a strange and familiar feeling washed over me. I knew I was about to faint and I panicked and by the time I got outside, all I could do was hold onto the railing and try to stay on my feet. My lights were going out and I knew if I let go of the railing I was going down. I have only almost fainted one other time in my life. The feeling is very strange, as though someone is turning a light dimmer down. Everything looks the same, except that suddenly, the world appears less colorful, more gray and dim. I wanted to call for help, but my voice wouldn’t work, nor would my normal capacity to form words. I could see a bench about ten feet away, but I just could not let go of the railing without falling to the ground.

After a few minutes, Marc came out and asked me if i was okay. I couldn’t really answer him. I could barely shake my head back and forth to indicate “No.” He rubbed my back, which made me feel so cared about and reminded me of how Chris made me feel all of those years. Marc asked me if I wanted to sit down on the bench and once again, I could not answer him. I shook my head again. Then I said to him, “I think I’m going to throw up.” and he said, “You do?” and then it happened. Right there, in public, in broad daylight, I vomited against the wall of the North Face while excited holiday consumes bustled about spending gift cards and returning unwanted gifts. I could not have cared less. Embarrassment was the last thing on my mind.

I felt better instantly, except for the aching muscles in my legs, arms, back and head. Marc helped me over to the rain-soaked bench where I sat with my head down for about ten minutes. He offered to hail a cab for me and give me the money to get home, but remembering the ideals of my fabulous husband, I said, “No. I am NOT giving my money to the man. I can get home by train.” After a few moments, I stood and we slowly walked to the subway station. Marc returned to work and I went home.

With the help of Advil PM, I slept from 8:30 last night until 2:00 today. My aches are gone, as is my nausea. I have not eaten a morsel in twenty-nine and a half hours and I’m not hungry at all. Way to jump right back on Weight-Watchers, right?

The thought that all of this may have been brought on by the anniversary of Chris’ final hospital stay and his final days on earth scares and amazes me. I really don’t know what the cause of my sudden illness was. I suppose it could have been psychosomatic. Aside from my physical ailments, I don’t feel sick. I don’t have a cold. I just experienced a bizarre breakdown of my ability to function. I don’t know if a person can have the flu for a few hours, or not. I really don’t know what happened. I only know that I feel so much more able to function in the safety of my apartment today and I am a little nervous about my return to the real world tomorrow.

I can do it, especially knowing that I have an appointment with Clay after work.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Shell Shock

I have returned to work, today, after my three-day holiday weekend and I am feeling quite nauseous. I have no proof, but a strong suspicion that depression has taken me by the leg and is threatening to wash over my entire body and soul. I feel tired, sad, sick and completely unmotivated.

This morning, on the news, the anchorwoman made mention of the Asian Tsunami of 2004. I missed that entire event because I was in the hospital getting the news that the doctors were going to stop Chris’ treatment and send him home for “comfort care”, which has always translated to “death” for me.

The body is an amazing organism. I truly believe that the nausea I feel is depression trying to get me to pack up and go home. I can do that if I want to and nobody would blink twice. I can go home sick. All I really want to do is crawl under my covers and cry for a few hours. I am not capable of focusing on anything else, today.

Marc and I are going out in a little while to pick up a jacket he bought on Newbury Street. I don’t want to go. I just want to cry.

Five minutes later…

I just returned from the ladies room where I spent the last five minutes in tears. I finally gave in. I wonder how many more times this is going to happen, today.

I’m going to try to feel better, but if that doesn’t happen, I am definitely going home sick.


Monday, December 25, 2006

Seven Stops on the Grief Express

I had the most magnificent day, yesterday, hosting a Christmas Eve celebration (even though we’re Jewish) at my apartment with my family. Yesterday marks the first time I have ever hosted such a family event and I feel as though the festivity was a screaming success. There was no room for grief in my day. I am truly blessed to be able to see the other people in my life whom I love and who love me.

Still, the moment all of the “good-byes” were said and I found myself standing alone in the middle of my living room, loss came to pay a visit, which made me bizarrely happy. I still need my grief as proof that I love Chris and at the present moment, I am not quite sure how to be certain of that love without tears and crushing despair. Even in the midst of my despair, I accepted an invitation to have dinner with a friend and her family so I picked myself up, brushed myself off and indulged in a Christmas Eve Chinese food binge, which elongated the cheerful day in which I was already ensconced.

The plan was to leave the restaurant, drive around and look at Christmas lights and leave adorable wooden reindeer on random cars as a gesture of holiday cheer. I agreed to accompany my friends but when the time came to leave, I needed to dash home and deal with my feelings. I think I cried for about seven minutes before I opened my laptop and pushed through a class assignment, once again proving that engaging in responsible actions alleviates my sadness. Go me.

I am moments away from leaving, with my brother, to visit my sister’s family and then to visit my father and his wife. Today will also be filled with cheer. I am doing what I have set out to do. I am having a happy holiday season, peppered with grief, but happy, nonetheless.

I got through Thanksgiving, Chris' birthday, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so far, even though I have lived in parrallells along the way, noting what was happening two years ago to the day, every step of the way. Four down, three to go. New Years Eve, New Years Day and my wedding anniversary are the final stops on this year’s grief express.



Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve, 2006

Suppress, suppress, suppress, suppress, suppress.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Mountains and Smaller Mountains

Clay said I sound different, that I have been describing the events of the past three years in more detail than I have in the past. I hated him for delivering that message because in conveying his thoughts to me, I feel as though he has relayed to me that I am “getting over” Chris’ death. I should tell him that’s the effect I experienced. Clay’s been pretty good in the past shouldering my displaced hatred toward him. Clay’s a rock...the soft kind of rock that other rocks bounce off of.

Therapy is a strange and mysterious phenomenon. The human mind is a strange and mysterious phenomenon. I wanted to quit going to Clay because I thought I was finished talking about my experiences. A common belief among therapists is that clients will end their treatment if they are afraid of facing pain or tapping into a memory or feeling that seems too powerful to acknowledge. As a client, myself, I feel hatred toward all therapists who may believe that notion, but that’s probably because the notion is true and as the old adage dictates, “The truth hurts.” What I mean to say is that now that I have decided to remain Clay’s client for a while, I have begun to talk with him about the most painful part of my ordeal, Chris’ actual illness, the symptoms, his pain, the deterioration of his freedom, quality of life and lastly, his very body. This aspect of my nightmare is so painful to talk about that I can already feel all of the thoughts connected to it squashing back down into the depths of my psyche where I can hide them from myself. I don’t really want to talk about those thoughts, but I need to get them out into the air. When I imagine myself telling my story to Clay I come up, once again, hating him. Poor Clay. But what can I say? I didn’t decide that he should become a therapist. I am the innocent in all of this.

Ah, now that all of my black thoughts are sufficiently suppressed, I can begin to get ready for my trek to Beth’s house today to visit with my in-laws, whom I love more than I can ever convey with mere words.

I have been reading a book entitled, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl, a man who survived Auschwitz and not only lived to tell about the ordeal, but transformed his experience into a meaningful manifesto written to deliver hope and an explanation for human suffering. In the book’s pages, I continue to find solid ground to stand on and to continue my recently reluctant march forward. There is much pain in this world, but there is beauty as well, and love, and humor, and kindness.

My heart bleeds for Victor Frankl and all others who have experienced similar horrors and I am so very thankful to people like him who share their stories, because these are the people who clearly demonstrate that horror, trauma and sadness can be overcome. My own horror pales in comparison to any death camp memoir. That thought, alone, helps me see my experience as a mountain that I can climb with relative ease.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Out of My Mind

Tonight, I visited an assisted-living home and, along with a host of other singers and walked the hallways singing Christmas carols to the residents. People stood in their doorways smiling and singing with us. We crammed into one woman’s room (She’s 96 years old!) and sang O Holy Night to her. Her excitement was a gift.

We also sang to alzheimers patients. I was nervous, at first, but then I reminded myself that the woman who took care of my husband was me and I wasn’t scared to help Chris then, and I’m not scared to help others now. The residents loved the music and I felt as though we all spread so much happiness tonight.

Afterwards, I went to the Whole Foods Chris and I used to go to when we lived in Brighton. I used to not be able to go there. Tonight, the pain was not as great as it was in the past. I drove through the same intersection that sent me into a three-hour breakdown last week, but this week I did not cry at all. I still feel sadness in that neighborhood and I can still feel how I felt when I used to walk up the sidewalk to our apartment. I can still feel Chris waiting upstairs for me and I can still feel us making plans to have breakfast at the Brighton Cafe.

Tonight, the memories did not hurt me because I took myself outside of my own mind for a couple of hours and gave of myself to others.

I want to give to others more often.


I don’t want to go to work. I wish I could stay home.

Operation “Having a Happy Holiday Season” is going pretty well. I have been out holiday shopping, which is something I really haven’t done in a while. Giving makes me feel better.

Last night I went out with two of my closest friends for our annual holiday outing. I had fun, but I still felt detached, almost not even present. The part of me that was present felt bland, fogged over, and I had to remind myself, even as I sat laughing with my friends, that I was out having fun. The threat of returning home to my Chris-less apartment and to my life as the single person I should not be, always looms.

Carol talked about funny things Josh said. Robby talked about funny things Gene said. I talked about funny things Chris said, aware that their partners are alive and well and mine is no longer with me. All of the funny things Chris said ended two years ago. His humor stopped at age 34, but Robby, Carol, Josh, Gene and my humor continues to mature. Chris is now five years younger than me and over time, the gap in our ages will increase. We should have been three and a half years apart forever.

I didn’t want to wake up this morning, despite my new prescription for Zoloft. I suppose PMS has a way with squelching whatever benefits an antidepressant can offer me.

A pattern I have become aware of is that on weekdays, when I have to be at work, all I want to do is stay home and get stuff done, but on weekends, when I typically have nothing scheduled, I can’t seem to get moving. That sounds like depression to me.

Still, I managed to go out and be at least partially present for a holiday outing last night. I will visit my in-laws on Saturday, I’m having my mother and siblings over on Sunday and I will be at my father’s house on Monday, Christmas day, the day I rushed Chris to the hospital 2 years ago. Maybe I will be too busy to think about any of the difficult stuff.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Zoloft and a Plan

Lately, I have been feeling as though Chris is around me. I feel his embrace, but in a different kind of way. I feel comforted. Yesterday morning, right before I woke up, the very last image my brain produced was that of a frame of Chris wearing the biggest, most wonderful smile I have ever seen. I just feel like he is here, guiding me out of the hole into which I have sunken. Maybe the Zoloft is helping...or maybe the Zoloft is helping clear a path for Chris to reach me, now. Maybe both.

I'm still shaky and I don't really trust that my grief will dissipate and I am on guard against every peak and valley. I am filled with anxiety when I think about the goings-on of 2 years ago today, but I can't not think about it. I am still frightened by the magnitude of what happened and I am afraid that it will happen again with whomever I meet next. And I still want to get off this crazy ride. And I still want to prevail.

There will be no Ellis Paul concert for me this New Years Eve. I did that, already and proved to myself that I could be there, but Ellis doesn't hold the same magic for me as he did when Chris was alive and enjoying the music with me.

My account is expiring in two weeks and after that I am just going to coast for a while and hope and try to meet somebody on my own. But my priorities will be school, exercise and performance for a while. Once I become focused on those three activities, I feel as though the rest of my life will begin to come together.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Each morning when I wake up, for a couple of seconds I lay still wondering whether, or not, I am going to cry. On my way up the five flights of stairs leading to my apartment, I wonder the same thing.

I have been crying for so long that I can’t remember what life was like before I cried every single day. Tears have become a norm in my daily routine. I cry in the morning, laugh throughout the day, cry when I get home, laugh before bed and cry under the comfort of my blankets. There are so many different types of tears that I never noticed before I became an expert: angry tears, soul-crushing tears, tears of complete and utter resign. I know which ones I am crying each time.

Last night on my way home from the audition, I passed through the neighborhood Chris and I lived in when we came home from Los Angeles. I didn’t really plan to come home that way, but something inside of me kept pulling me in that direction.

Last night’s tears began as I sat at a red light at the intersection of Washington and Commonwealth Avenue. I glanced across the street toward the Brighton CafĂ©, a favorite breakfast place of mine and Chris’, and closed my eyes for a few seconds. Suddenly I was inside, sitting across from Chris three years ago, smiling at him. The memory was so real I forgot I was in my car. I could feel him. The realization that I was merely dreaming came back like a cruel arctic frost, hardening over my joy and freezing time at 2005.

That part of town does it to me every time. I continue to pass through in some effort to understand and accept what has transpired over the past couple of years.

I cried from the time I arrived in that intersection until I arrived beneath the covers in my bed, taking a fifteen minute break only to eat some Edy’s slow-churned caramel swirl ice cream and cool whip. There’s nothing sad about Edy’s slow-churned caramel swirl ice cream and cool whip.

Before turning in for the night, I prayed to Chris and to God to send me a man who is just like Chris.

What I really want is to be with a man who is just like Chris.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

How Burrage Got Her Groove Back

Today ended up being a good day, although its false 4:00am start was tough. I finally went back to sleep at 5:30 after posting my last entry and dreamed about stressful situations and impossible outcomes.

I awoke for the second time at 9:30am to a voicemail message from a friend inviting me over to a remain-in-your-pajamas pancakes and coffee date. With ten minutes of waking state in me, I brushed my teeth, threw a coat over my jammies and headed to my car to drive myself to her house.

I conveyed to her my feelings that nobody wants to hear my grief woes anymore and that everybody expects me to be over the ordeal, and in her sweet, always compassionate way, she reassured me that none of my good friends expect me to be over anything, nor are the people who love me tired of listening to me work through my grief. I exhaled. Somehow, just knowing that they know how I feel during my moments of solitude made me feel loved again.

From her house, we went to watch her boyfriend play in his jazzband for a couple of hours. The weather was beautiful, I had no schoolwork to do, no new songs to learn and as a result, no kerfew.

We returned to her home afterwards where we enjoyed more coffee together and then I drove to the Cheesecake Factory to enjoy dinner with five others from the show in which I just performed. I had wanted to cancel out on them at 4:00am this morning. I’m glad I went. The evening was a lot of fun with a very nice group of people of whom I am very fond.

I did it. I turned it around.

I can feel myself getting back on track with the help of Zoloft. I really needed the help, this time. I feel as though a heavy, wet, cold blanket has been lifted off of me and I am beginning to dry off and warm up.

Thank goodness for the relief.

Muscle Memory is Killing Me

I am not doing very well. I woke up at 4am and I tossed around thinking ugly, dark thoughts until now. My head hurts and I am feeling a lot of pain and even though I realize this is self-pitying, selt-sabotaging behavior, I’m having trouble talking myself out of the funk I have been in lately.

I feel like there is so llittle love for me. I have, once again, entered a wishful state that Chris had survived his cancer, but that notion is just a fairy-tale of old.

Last night, I watched Larry King Live. Marlo Thomas was the guest and the show was about St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital. A few families and their doctors were also guests, along with child survivors of cancer.

Cancer is such a serious, scary, forboding disease. The one thing I wish I had in common with the families on the show is their getting to keep their loved ones. Their doctors saved the lives of their loved ones. They each got to feel what I felt each time Chris told me his tumor had shrunken. These families get to feel what I felt when the surgeon reported that she had managed to remove all of Chris’ cancer.

I am very sad this morning. I think my body is remembering the timeline. Two years ago, Chris was well into his 2nd diagnosis and had lost his belief that he would prevail. My body seems to remember and has begun to keep me awake at night, wake me up in the wee hours of the morning and infect me with depression.

Yesterday was day-one of my re-entry into the world of antidepressants. I am hoping my Zoloft will save me this time because I find that my brain has been telling me, once again, that the only way out of this mess is through death. I am trying, very hard, to turn this around, but I am really up against it this time because I feel as though none of my friends understand how painful losing my spouse has been for me. The worst part of that is that I think that they think they do understand, but that’s just not the case. Nobody really understands.

I am still fighting the fight and really trying to have a happy holiday season. I have to. I owe that much to myself. Muscle memory is beating the fuck out of me, though.

I have a hard time being around married people again. Carol and Josh are going strong and I find myself not really wanting to answer the phone when she calls. I am supposed to go with her this afternoon to see Josh play piano and then I am supposed to go out with the folks from my recently closed show for dinner. I don’t want to do either. All I want to do is crawl into bed and sleep until I die.

I know these feelings will pass. I’m tired. Maybe now the words are written, I have freed myself to go back to sleep.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Raising the Bar

I left work at 1:00pm yesterday due to a horrible cold that made staying awake feel like the most difficult challenge I have ever faced in my lifetime. I was in bed by 2:00pm and I didn’t wake up until today at 6:00am. That’s a sixteen-hour refrain from my waking state. I guess my body needed the rest. I have been going out every single night and all day on the weekends. My body said “Stop.” and then stopped me.

I called in sick today, but worked from home for half a day because the guy that covers me at work was on vacation. Still, I was happy to have not had to venture out into the ice cold at 8:00 in the morning, even if my heating bill is going to send me out in search of a second job.

I did get up and go through the motions of getting ready this morning. I made it into the shower, got dressed and even put on my makeup, but when the time came to blow-dry my hair, I knew I was staying home. My eyes would not stay open without tearing up and sneezing seemed to be my new favorite hobby.

Even as I dialed my boss’ number, though, I knew I was staying home because I was sick and because I was depressed. I have noticed depression coming on more and more over the last few weeks. I am thankful for my level of self-awareness because I recognized the signs. I had lost interest in almost everything, my job included, and I have been having a tough time coping with the end of things such as my class, my show and my therapy with Clay.

Today I went to CVS to pick up my new prescription for Zoloft. I have decided to begin taking an antidepressant again because if I don’t try to help myself, I won’t ever feel better. I am tired of crying and tired of talking about something that happened two years ago. Nobody expects me to still be upset and I feel as though most people are tired of hearing me talk about my loss. None of that will shape how much I talk about my loss, but taking an antidepressant could free me up to take larger strides into my future. If I don’t try my hardest to keep moving forward, I might never know the joy that my future holds.

This morning was a testament to how depressed I can get. I logged onto my computer and began working. My computer malfunctioned and so did my thought process. I began by thinking, “My fucking computer is acting quirky.” and then thought, “I hate this fucking laptop.” and “I hate my job.” and then “I HATE MY LIFE!” and then before I even knew what hit me, I was curled up on the futon crying, “My husband died.” Behavior such as that is hardly conducive to a bright, new future. Perhaps Zoloft will help me raise the bar on my base level of optimism, which, on a good day...actually, on most days is at a pretty good level. My problem is sustaining that level over a vast amount of consecutive days. My moods are not consistent. I need to learn to let go. I need to find a way to convince myself that letting go is not synonymous with forgetting.

I am considering attending the bereavement group at Dana Farber again if the mediator will have me. She seemed to want only those who have been grieving for 6 months to a year. Even she seems to have placed a statute of limitations on grief.

I think, a lot, about how much good I could do for others and for myself if I just reached out and tried to help somebody else in life. I want to do that. I hope to be able to do that someday. I need to harness my own pain, first.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

My Dream

I had insomnia last night, waking at 3:00 am and being unable to drift back to sleep until around 5:30.

We walked side by side, me feeling sadness and loneliness and Chris feeling the anger and sadness he felt from his illness. I wanted to fix it. I wanted to make him better and to be able to reassure him that he was going to be alright and I wanted to really mean it.

I wondered if he would be able to see me after he died and I said to him. “Can we please talk about this?” He wasn’t willing.

I faced him, stretched my arms high above my head and brought them down and around his neck, embracing him with all of the love I have inside of me, hoping it was helping him but knowing from deep down inside that nothing would.

We were having dinner in a restaurant. I was in a horrible, angry mood. I ordered a cheeseburger and when the food came, I was served what looked like a cheeseburger between two halves of an english muffin. When I bit into it, it was all English muffin and no burger. I became angry and called the manager over. I said, “I ordered a cheeseburger and this is what I got." and then I yelled "I’M PISSED OFF!” I knew my anger was bothering Chris. His anger was much more valid. I tried to send positive energy his way but it just wasn’t reaching him.

A young waiter sat down at our table and he anc Chris were talking. I wanted to talk. I leaned toward the waiter and said, with anger in my voice, “Do you MIND if I talk to my HUSBAND?”

Then I leaned over the table toward Chris and said, “Are you still my husband?” He was angry.

We were walking down the street together, me holding onto his arm like I did when he was here. I just kept sending all of my love and energy through him, trying to help him feel better.

We went to visit Bonnie in what looked like a horrible, messy, run-down child-care facility. the toilets were overflowing and there was water on the floors. We couldn’t find comfortable places to sit. Chris was angry the entire time.

There were yorkie puppies in the closet. I called them over and spent all of my time with one of them, who persistently licked my hand throughout the remainder of my dream.

Okay. I have to stop crying and get ready for work.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Holiday Reflections

Grief has a way with attacking and retreating that has caused me to reconsider the benefits of long-term antidepressant and anxiety medication.

I have been feeling better lately, except that underneath absolutely everything I feel lies a low-grade fever, comprised entirely of depression and anxiety. My running temperature shows me how some people who have experienced the loss of a spouse have trouble getting out of bed every morning. I have always been very strong-willed. I exist to defend myself against the sadness and anger that have become a large part of my inner persona. Something within me knows and has always known that the only choice for me is to persist upon picking myself up and marching forward. From the moment the gunshot sounded, I have been off and running.

These days of anniversaries, have me feeling as though my body and mind are slowing, slowing, slowing and grief is right on my heels just waiting for me to trip over some unforeseen obstacle along the track. Each anniversary day is a hurdle. I have jumped over the Thanksgiving and “Chris’ birthday” hurdles with some success although my shins have collected bruises, reminding me of how easily grief can attack and take me down. I didn’t fall, though...well, I actually did fall, but I got back up without losing too much ground.

The Christmas season is approaching and with it comes memories of oncological waiting rooms teaming with IV drips and Christmas carols, cookies and stories from other hapless patrons of anti-nausea drugs and chemo-induced pseudo-comas. I am reminded of Christmas wishes I thought I would never have. “I would love a new Tivo!” became “I would love to wake up and discover I have been dreaming.” and “I would love for my husband’s life to be spared for Christmas, this year.“ I experienced hopeless wishes in the face of anticipated disaster intertwined with nurses wearing santa hats and Saturdays spent feeling as though the Neulasta shot had been administered straight into my heart, instead of the back of my husband’s arm. He hated those shots and the barely tolerable pain they brought.

I feel very much like David Banner, constantly searching for the antidote that could eventually stop the demons and end the transformation into the monster that freely takes over his being.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Maybe "Take care." means "Take care."

So, “take care” guy wants to go out with me, again. Strange.

I’m not saying a thing about how I worked myself into a grief frenzy for nothing. That frenzy was coming one way or another. “Take care” guy was just the catalyst, this time.