Thursday, June 14, 2012



"Extravagant exaggeration"

Grief hurts. There is a certain pain that you feel which is unmistakable and undeniable.  The good news is that it is neither terminal nor permanent.  Very slowly the pain subsides.  The sadness and sense of loss linger but become more tolerable every day.  Every day forward brings you closer to the new "normal" and farther from your old life.  

There is never a good time to lose a loved one but there are better times.  My mother passed away about 10 days before Thanksgiving.  For years I hosted all the holidays.  It just made the most sense because it was easier for everyone to come to mom then to get her to someone else's house.

Too soon!  There was no way I could bring myself to host the feast.  I was conflicted because I was craving the old traditions but honest enough to know that there were only new traditions from now on.  It was my sister's turn to host.  Now with Adelaide gone, Patricia was the de facto matriarch of our ever-shrinking family.  I, of course, cooked.  It's what I do.  It's what I wanted to do.  I welcomed the distraction.

OK!  We made it through the first holiday without mom.  I could take a deep breath.  We're going to be OK.  Onward to Christmas.

Christmas was going to be back at my house.  Yes, I know I said we had to move forward but Christmas?  I   knew this was going to be the last Christmas in the home I had lived in for 40+ years and I wanted to savor it.  It was not going to be the way it used to be but I was going to do my best.

I guess there was some degree of denial involved in my decision.  I also think that if I weren't going to be hosting Christmas I would not have decorated which would have meant me wallowing in a spiritless house for a month and that would not have been good.

Christmas was pretty good.  Time was working its magic.  I was settling into looking at my future with more enthusiasm than fear. The balance was turning in favor of more happy days than sad ones.  The tears were getting more distanced.


"a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object is used in place of another to suggest an analogy between them" 

Healing is not always on a straight trajectory.  There are twists and turns and the fates are good at testing us. At any time and without warning that "truck" can make a u-turn and come back and hit us again...and it did.

I had three big holidays under my belt.  I was finding time for some fun.  I was spending more time with close friends.  I even with out with a couple of them for New Year's Eve.  I earned some time out and they graciously saw that I got it.  A little crazy fun on New Year's Eve is an easy way to put a very bad year behind you. It is always symbolic and bitter-sweet, but this year, wow.  2012 had to be better for me!  

In 2011 I had lost my niece, mother, purpose and identity.  Good riddance!  Be gone worst of worst years.

On New Year's day my beloved Golden Retriever Mickey wasn't acting quite right.  Actually he had declined since his "patient" [my mother] had died.  He was her most faithful companion and guardian.  They had an amazing bond.  Each would look for the other  and you could see the love on their faces.

On January 2, 2012, two whole days into the new and promising year I had to do the most difficult task any pet owner /care giver has to do. I had to make the only humane decision which was to send my wonderful Mickey to be with my mother. 

Slam!  Bang! Crash!
Hello truck.  Welcome back grief.  

That was a blow I was not ready for.  I never felt so alone.  First I lost my job taking care of my mother and now I would no longer have my "best friend" to care for.  I did not think I was going to ever stop mourning.  All the progress I had made was nullified.

But of course I survived!  Death is part of life.  Blah...blah...blah.  The good news is that everything had been taken away from me now.  I had nothing left to lose.  I was at the bottom so life had to start looking up.

I threw myself into packing up my life into moving boxes in order to prepare my house to go up for sale.  This was not emotionally easy but necessary.  If I were truly going to move on then I had to literally move.


"the quality of being actual occurrence" 

 Some people are superstitious about saying things like "I had nothing left to lose." or "I was at the bottom so life had to start looking up."  I think they may know something profound.

We were approaching big holiday number 4, Easter.  My house was well under de-construction so we were back to gathering at my sister's.  I, once again, would be cooking.  This was a bit of a milestone holiday for my family.  While December 31, 2011 was the end of the calendar year, Easter would be the end of our family's worst symbolic year.  It had been Holy Saturday of 2011 that my niece had passed away.  Let's try putting that bad year away once and for all.

Ten days before Easter my sister and I were out for our usual and traditional Friday shopping, galavanting and bonding.  We have been doing that for years.  It's a very nice and comfortable tradition.  It was a beautiful Spring day and we had gone to the next town over to a specialty store to begin buying food supplies for the Easter dinner.  I was going to be making lasagna and I wanted fresh pasta.  

It was such a beautiful day that I decided to avoid the main roads because Friday traffic is always bad.  Instead I chose the back, country roads which wind along the reservoir system.  It was great.  There was no traffic.  Very pleasant.  

The road is a gently winding road with trees, guard rails and water along most of it.  Very scenic.  I looked pretty far ahead of us and saw this 18-wheeler heading towards us and I noted to my sister that the truck was a little over the center line.  I naturally assumed the truck driver would correct when he saw my car.  

As we got closer the truck moved farther and farther over the center line into my lane of travel.  Now, time was short and it looked like the truck was not going to correct.  I managed to get my car to a place with no guard rail and pulled as far off the roadway as I could, being mindful of water not far beyond the road.

I stepped on the brake, commanded my sister to "get down low.  Make yourself as small as you can.  He's going to hit us."  With that I threw myself to my right side and onto my sister as far as I could while still wearing my seatbelt.  Within seconds the monstrous truck, now a full five feet into my lane, crashed past smashing the side of my car until finally coming to rest at least a hundred feet past us.

I sat up.  I could not believe what had happened.  I checked on my sister and she was OK. We had a weird catharsis and both of us laughed uncontrollably.  There was nothing funny.  It was just our emotional release. Then I looked down to make sure my body parts were all where they were supposed to be.  They seemed to be.

I don't remember much of what followed.  I know I was in shock.  We were in shock.  Rescue teams quickly arrived and got my sister out of the car.  She was beaten up and shaken up and had spine and neck damage but she was standing.

Next thing I remember is being cut out of the car with the "jaws of life".  I had to be braced and lifted to the ambulance.  I was in bad shape but I was alive. 

You may have guessed that this threw me off my grief recovery plan.  I spent the first couple of weeks in tears any time I spoke with anyone. The compounding of grief is serious.  But I survived.  I am a survivor!

The first thing I half-heartedly joked in the ER was that it was "unfair that I had been worried about not having a home and now I don't even have a car.  If you're going to be homeless you at least have to have a car to live in."  We laughed.  I cried some more.  

I'm still in physical therapy and awaiting a few medical procedures.  Some days there is less pain than others but there is always pain.  I had initially lost some ability to grasp the right  words when I was speaking but that is much improved now.  I will never be the same.  But I'm alive. 

My sister refers to our miraculously being saved as "Mommy's first miracle"!  I think she might be right.  There has to have been an angel watching out for us.

I really do know what it feels like to be hit buy a truck!  Be it hyperbole, metaphor or fact, pain is debilitating.