Sunday, June 30, 2013

Raw and Unprocessed

Yesterday, when my brother and I were packing up my mom's apartment, I came across a box of sugar. Not your ordinary five pound bag, but a box. The brand label said "RAW Sugar-Unprocessed."
The word "RAW"was the prevalent word on the packaging. 

And that is how I have felt today. RAW. 

I finally ran out of things  to nervously put away for my mother at her new residence. It has been a safety net of sorts; as long as I didn't sit down, I didn't have to face her in my grief. That time ran out today, and I held her in my arms as she cried and lovingly stroked my arms with her aged and infirmmed hands. 

I was invited to go to a movie with a dear couple who have been our friends forever. It was a wonderful, funny movie, ("The Heat"), and a great escape. And yet as I laughed out loud, I was heaving great sobs inside. Such a paradox I didn't know existed. 

I've never been an anxious person-I would consider myself fairly laid back. Suddenly I find myself worrying about what the next unexpected event will be. My children, grandchildren, siblings, friends? My fear is understandable and palpable, yet I know irrational.

Our dogs are doing better and yet, Abi still jumps up at most noises, (looking for Glenn?) and both of them have been sick several times, which is very atypical. I think they are feeling whatever grief canines feel.

I realized tonight that I will be okay. I will keep doing what I'm doing until I am able to laugh at a movie again, just for the humor. I will be able to enjoy a summer day, and growing things and friends and laughter and fun. And maybe , just maybe, someday I won't jump right back to the pain, even though Glenn will always be near 
Maybe someday it won't feel so RAW.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Crazy Times

There is a book out there somewhere called, Crazy Times, that I read many years ago while going through a divorce. I don't remember the book's content per se, but I've never forgotten the title.
How appropo for my feelings and reflections.

Crazy Times.

Yesterday, the one week anniversary of that horrifying evening,  was more difficult than I had anticipated. I dragged out papers to try to make sense of insurance issues, and realized that it was a waste of time because it was Sunday. Somehow I believed that the Church Pension Fund  should be open and waiting for my call, regardless of day or time.

Crazy Times.

I was so amazed yesterday that life was really continuing to move on. The churches opened their  doors and had services and people laughed and prayed and smiled. Don't they know that Glenn is dead?

Crazy Times.

There were jobs and lives for my family to return to, and my mother still needed to be sprung from the nursing home where she has been doing therapy. I went to her apartment in the afternoon to prepare for the move today, and felt such anger and confusion. I always envisioned closing her apartment because she had died-I kept having to remember as I was packing that it wasn't her who was dead, it was Glenn.

Crazy Times.

I put his laundry away, with a kiss, I know he is gone, I really do, but I need to fold and hang. I have started to put it in one place for later when I'm ready.  I gathered his shoes and put them in the armoir, touching them lovingly. I get that there will be time for that. I'm okay with knowing he won't wear them again.. But, I don't know what to do with the whiskers on the counter, where he trimmed his goatee on Sunday morning, or the razor still perched on the sink, or the towel hanging by the shower.

Crazy Times

Right now, the unanswerable question for me is, "How are you?"
"Fine", "Okay", "Hanging in"...none seem like the descriptor of how I'm feeling. So mostly I just give a shrug and a nod. And sometimes I say, "Crazy Times."

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Alter Christus

At this hour last Sunday, Glenn was preaching on the story of the outcast woman who was scorned for her lifestyle and lack of social grace, and yet Jesus welcomed her as an equal.
 The message of his sermon that morning was that we all need to be a welcoming, inclusive community to others, and that we should be the "Alter Christus" the "other Christ" to those we meet in our lives.

Who knew that lots of you already had received that message, as indicated by your service to me last week?
Alter Christus

Glenn talked to everybody. Everybody. A lot. And if you had on a sports jacket from one of "his" teams, I knew that I should just leave and come pick him up later. It was one of the things I loved most about him, unless I was in a hurry:).

Alter Christus

Yesterday I went into Walgreens to cancel his prescriptions, mostly because every time they autofill something, the announcement that it is ready pops up in our email with a chirpy little message. After a couple of times of yelling, "Shut up-he's dead!"to my IPad,I decided I needed to take action for my own mental health.  A few years ago I complained that the women who worked in the drive-thru there were so crabby. He had no clue what I meant. And sure enough, as soon as they connected me with him, they were no longer crabby to me. The pharmacy tech on duty tearfully told me that whenever they saw his car in the tv screen at the drive-up they smiled.  "He always seemed so happy to see us!"

Alter Christus


Saturday, June 22, 2013

The gift that keeps on giving-GRACE.

Last Sunday night after a perfectly normal day, in fact better than most normal days, my husband Glenn suddenly felt like he was going to throw up. About a half hour before this happened,  he asked me to bring him a Tums on my way to bed, because his stomach was queasy. We attributed it the rib eye steaks we had for dinner, since we are not big meat eaters. After he was sick, I took his pulse which seemed okay, and decided to sit up with him until he felt better. I assured him he must have gas. Seriously, what was I thinking? About two minutes later his head rolled back and his breathing was erratic and sporadic.  Enter a crew of paramedics and police. Shortly after their arrival I began to hear words coming from my living room that you only hear on tv shows, such as "Clear!" .  Because our dog Abi was literally frothing at what she perceived to be an assault on her beloved Glenn, I was stuck in our bedroom with her and Boo. Every now and then a police officer would stick his or her head in to tell me that Glenn was still was without life, and that there had been no progress, despite incredible efforts.

And then grace revealed its beautiful head in my life once again. 

As Protestant Christians, we believe that grace is defined as a gift that is generous, freely given, totally unexpected, and undeserved. It is the love and mercy and salvation that God has given us, not because of anything we have done to earn it, but because of God's love for us. Glenn and I always felt that our marriage was evidence of God's wonderful gift of grace- the gift of second chances.

As my life changed forever that night, I was hysterical, terrified and not in my right mind, and it was 11:30 at night. I tried to reach our children first, deciding rather rationally that birth order would be a good thing. I called each of our two oldest children and let them call their siblings. Soon Emily and her husband Paul were on their way from St Paul. Apparently I dialed one other number because suddenly  the door opened and there was my friend Misty. She physically picked me up off the floor and emotionally held me up and spent the rest of the night with me, driving me to the hospital to view his body , and then to my mother's bedside to be comforted by the love only a mother can provide, and finally back to our home to wait for my children, the event still evidenced by disarray and frantic pets. She cancelled her family vacation because of Glenn's death.
Grace continued to reveal itself to me the next morning. Being the Sears Charm School graduate I am :), I waited until a decent hour to call a few other close friends. I never asked for a thing, but by 8am a crew arrived with cleaning products, and food, and wine and coffee etc. etc. By noon the house was spotless, the carpets shampooed, and the doorbell rang  all day with more and more dear friends.. They held me when I cried and laughed with me at  some of the macabre. My dear friend Sandy ...there are no words for her tirelessness. She cleaned, and organized and bustled and got more done than in all the years I've lived here. But when I fell apart, she stopped and held me. Everybody just came...and fell into a role that day, and  the love was all given so freely and undeservedly. It was a true old-fashioned wake that lasted 4 days.
Monday my children made a plan so that one of them would be with me all the time. Christopher and Rianna got the night shift, which included pj's, 3 dogs, and seasons of sitcoms I'd never watched before. When at 3:30 a.m. I started to feel a bit tired, we slept. If I awoke at 7, so did they. They kept me alive. Literally. Seriously.
My daughter Emily returned to Brainerd to discover that I hadn't showered or changed my clothes in 3 days. She gently guided me back to consciousness and helped me pick out something to wear to the funeral. She planned several lunches at places we use to go as a family when she and Chris were still at home.
Emily organized and planned the family dinner and hotel accommodations for a blended and not very cohesive family. I had nothing to do but nod and show up. All this while taking care of my very precious grandsons and trying to help them make sense out of something beyond way their grasp at 5 and 3.