Monday, December 29, 2008


My husband died almost 4 years ago, and contrary to popular belief, the pain doesn’t go away in one year, in fact, I believe the pain never goes away and that I’m just going to move on with a cavity in my soul for the rest of my life. But that may only be my belief this week, the anniversary week of Chris’ death. God, I hope that’s true, because I can’t feel like this for very long if I intend to continue being the basically happy person I am.

Lucky for me, Carol just called and interrupted my brief but powerful griefquake. Its intensity level exploded off the rector scale.

I answered her call by saying, “Wow. Your social worker senses must have been tingling.” She laughed and asked me if I was having a meltdown. Then we talked and laughed for a while about how my car broke down on the Pike last night and how I called her just to let someone know what was happening. The state police couldn’t find me, so I waited two hours for them to locate and push my car to the breakdown lane. Ugh. Then I waited another hour for the tow truck. Not surprisingly, I remained calm and upbeat throughout the entire experience.

Experiencing the death of a soul mate has changed my entire perspective on life. Being imprisoned within my car on the Pike for three hours is hardly a daunting experience by comparison. Instead of getting upset, I visited the guy who was broken down ahead of me and we chit-chatted about how thankful we were that we didn’t break down in last week’s snow storm, and that it was reasonably warm out and that the police came and that the tow truck was on the way. Life is all about choices.

True, I did not choose to be widowed, but an endless supply of choices are always at my disposal. I did not choose to be sucked into a whirlpool of grief this morning, but I did choose to answer the phone when I saw it was Carol calling. I knew I’d feel better after talking with her.


I get it, God.

I was just reminded of an Alanis Morrisette song from a bazillion years ago. The song’s lyrics always had a strong impact on me, even more so, now.

You Learn

I recommend getting your heart trampled on to anyone
I recommend walking around naked in your living room
Swallow it down (what a jagged little pill)
It feels so good (swimming in your stomach)
Wait until the dust settles

You live you learn
You love you learn
You cry you learn
You lose you learn
You bleed you learn
You scream you learn

I recommend biting off more then you can chew to anyone
I recommend sticking your foot in your mouth at any time
Throw it down (the caution blocks you from the wind)
Hold it up (to the rays)
You wait and see when the smoke clears

Wear it out (the way a three-year-old would do)
Melt it down (you're gonna have to eventually anyway)
The fire trucks are coming up around the bend

You grieve you learn
You choke you learn
You laugh you learn
You choose you learn
You pray you learn
You ask you learn
You live you learn

During my griefquake, I cried, I called Chris a fucking asshole for getting cancer and leaving me alone. I swore I would never feel as much in love with anybody else as I felt with him. I felt that love, again, and then I felt the exact reflection of that love in blackened, rotting hatred toward him.

And now I have emerged from the darkness back into the light and I’m looking forward to enjoying Jonathan’s presence over dinner, this evening.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Chapter Next

The body’s ability to act out a memory is quite an amazing phenomenon.

I had a wonderful day today, visiting my mother and her boyfriend with my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew. The weather was not ideal, but in the presence of my family, the sun shone brightly and warmly.

I suppose I have been experiencing anxiety from the time I awoke, this morning. I had trouble waking up, and I struggled with waves of grogginess and headaches throughout the day. I thought nothing of it until the drive home, when I began to feel nauseous and physically uncomfortable, achy, tense and just plain skin-crawly. I figured the heat in the car was too much for me to endure. Even so, I remained excited about coming home to take a nice run. I did just that.

It’s tough to run in the snow. Last night, I ran 4 miles, through slush, ice and puddles. I ran to the gym with thoughts of participating in a 30-minute cardio-class, but I was the only person interested in taking the class, and so it did not take place. I didn’t care. At my gym, there’s there’s always a risk of any particular class not running during its scheduled time, which is really no big deal. I simply always have a “plan B” prepared in case, so I had already accepted the existence of the possibility that I might end up running to the gym and then reversing my direction and running right back home. Either way, I got a nice workout, even though my feet were completely soaking wet and freezing by the time I returned home. I was exhausted. My snow-mound climbing and puddle-jumping nearly doubled my running time.

Tonight’s run was also difficult. I guess I thought the warmer temperature would magically melt every bit of snow and leave the sun shining well past dusk, and cause flowers to bloom throughout the city in a fresh burst of springtime. I now understand the error of my way. I ran 5.5 miles, mostly following Mass Ave. which is a pretty safe run, very well lit and usually teaming with people. But tonight is Christmas Eve, and everything closed early. I had originally planned to run 6.25 miles, straight over the Harvard Bridge and back, but the cold, wet darkness and barren streets caused me to fear for my safety, so I reversed direction early and ran back through the strangely deserted Central and Harvard Squares, yearning for my warm, dry living room.

Running often stirs up my emotions, loosening my denial and purging my anxiety. I no sooner locked the door behind me when I sat, immediately, on the floor in the hallway, against the wall and sobbed uncontrollably.

Four years ago tonight, I could hear Chris’ pain and I could do nothing to help him. That night, I slept on the couch, trying to drown out the sounds and praying that Chris would fall asleep.

Tomorrow will mark the four-year anniversary of the last time I would drive Chris to the hospital, and even though I had a wonderful day today, my body remembered the trauma, and I knew I had to stay home tonight and allow myself to feel and to react to my memories. It’s not so bad. I feel nervous and sad,. but I’m in control, and I’m looking forward to more holiday fun at my father’s house tomorrow.

And I’m looking forward to Jonathan’s return from Pennsylvania, next week. I can see what’s on offer for me this year, and I’m ready to begin shedding the past, if I can. Jonathan’s arms are a sweet safe-haven and I am relishing the safety I feel within them and within him.

All in all, I’m feeling pretty lucky. I’m still very much hurting about what happened to Chris. I'm aware that I am exiting the widow express and beginning a new chapter of life, with Jonathan, whom I am so happy to have met.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Friday, before the snowstorm hit, I visted the supermarket and bought all of the ingredients to make a delicious rotini pasta and homemade meat sauce dinner, complete with garlic bread and all the makin’s for hot fudge sundaes for Jonathan and me. I hadn’t cooked for him, yet, in fact I regularly claimed that I didn’t know how to cook. I was scared.

One of the most difficult things to resume after Chris’ demise was cooking. We cooked for and with each other all the time, and the first time I made my meat sauce with Chris no longer here, I trembled the entire time, fighting to catch my breath and keep from submitting to the dizzying grief and anxiety that threatened to take me down. My cooking was for Chris and nobody else, so my snap decision to cook for Jonathan took me completely by pleasant surprise.

We’re growing together. Our relationship is happening. The growth is real, and the ever-strengthening, all-enveloping fibers are nice, comforting and welcome in my life.

I spent 24 hours with him this weekend, enjoying doing pretty much absolutely nothing together, a very pleasant way to share our time.

This morning, Boston is getting hit with another snowstorm, which is a beautiful and magical sight out my Charles Dickens, criss-cross window panes, and even though I’m painfully aware I will need to venture out later on and exhume my car from the snowy rubble, my “right now” is quite intoxicating. Heck, I have not yet let go of the possibility of taking a run around the winterscaped Charles River later this afternoon, however impractical. I’m nothing if I’m not completely insane. Well, perhaps “eccentric” is a kinder word, if I am even worthy of a term of such honor. I’m claiming it as my own. I’ll take eccentric over practical, any day.

My snowy weekend is not without thoughts of my Chris, feelings of sadness for his pain, and gratitude for the end of that pain and for having known and loved each other as deeply as we had.

Jonathan is going away to visit his family for the holiday, and even though I will miss him and I will wait, anxiously for his return, I’m feeling good about having the space to process missing my Chris, while simultaneously buildling a kind, caring, loving, sweet, healthy relationship with the next love of my life.