Emotions come in waves. Waves that push me back gently to the shore, exhausted and waterlogged after going so far out with Vernon. If I make the mistake of stopping to think, I feel the sadness and confusion and start crying or else if I go go go, I’ll get tired and in a moment of weakness, feel angry and confused….and start crying. It only happens here and there. The champaign bubbles, as Sandy calls them, are released a little and the bottle doesn’t break. The bottle is feeling a little brittle, and when my anxiety rises over little triggers here and there (mostly the planning for memorials and the creaky return to the land of the living), I can almost hear/feel the sound of shattering glass. It occurs to me what we just went through, my heart starts pounding. And then I cry a little, talk it out with someone safe, and when I’m ready, I get back to my responsibilities, leaving a trail of tumbling sea glass behind me.
These sketches I made of Fornasetti plates this summer kind of sum my head up right now. It’s all over the place.
I have a wonderful therapist that takes emergency calls from me. We had a talk about my sudden range of feelings. One thing she said was: “Everything you say and do right now doesn’t sound or look as bad as it sounds and looks in your head.” She told me that everything might feel a little off for a while. I lash out sometimes, I have to be careful not to be alone with chatty strangers when I go out in public. I recognize the crazy that comes out in me when suddenly my expectations are not met on the smallest details—this is what I felt often through the hospice experience, and it hasn’t left me entirely yet. I have spent the first days home, trying to reestablish a sense of security. I feel like a cat that goes around smelling the corners for her own scent, re-marking the territory. We have had our closest tribe around us these days, people who endured the last two or three weeks together with us. We are taken care of well. We don’t feel lonely yet.
I told my therapist: “I thought the worse was over. Why do I feel so anxious and unsettled?”
“It’s just a different kind of worse,” she told me. We laughed and laughed over that phrase, it truly tickled me.
I took Justine to school and then picked her up again for the first time this school year. Here we are walking on the bridge home. I briefly met her teacher. All the important people at the kid’s schools know. Justine has started telling other people the news as she feels like it: “I told all the kids that sit near my desk,” she told me. She’s also been playing with the butterfly net quite a lot. They will move into the routines in their own way and in their own time, I expect. I must be careful not to micro-manage them as I return to Mom-role after being gone for awhile. Everything does feel different and slightly off.
Yesterday, I went on a walk with my friend Adrena. She lost her 13-year old shining son two months ago in an RV accident. She also lost a 13 year old nephew at the same time. I won’t go into all the details now, but it was good to connect with someone I already know pretty well who is going through something similar at the exact same time. I called her a week ago, while still tending to Vernon, just to cry together. She doesn’t live here but happened to be in town this week. We planned to walk, as we do each time she comes to town. It was pretty brutal, our conversation. I can imagine that if others were listening in, they would be shocked by the descriptions we were throwing around. But it felt good not to be alone in the extremes of our raw experiences, even though hers was quick and sudden with no preparation, and mine went on for what felt like too long. “It’s all brutal,” she said. “Just different kinds of brutal.” A different kind of worse.
Here are some words she had tattooed on her arm just this past week…a love note in her son’s handwriting.
And a Winston Churchill quote which she had found on a list of her nephew’s favorites. What an honor to us that she chose one of Vernon’s fonts.
“If you are going through hell, keep going.” (Nope, don’t want to stop there.)
But then…look how much beach glass we found. There are are clearly others who have come before.
I’m glad I wrote down so much of the magic of the past couple of weeks…it’s so good to remember those amazing, beautiful things. But right now, the shock is just beginning to wear off…and with it come new feels. Fortunately, so far, they only come in waves.