It is difficult to explain to people how I feel. I get a lot of heartfelt and well meaning, how are yous? These are both welcome and appreciated; however, other than “Fine.”, “Okay.”, or “Ehh.”, no other answers really come to mind. Screaming that I’m locked in a personal hell seems a little extreme for casual conversation. How does one convey that particular emotion without being deemed psycho?
I don’t take my life for granted. I do try to enjoy every little thing that I can as much as I can. That’s what keeps me going. I NEED to make life make sense even when it doesn’t. I NEED to find meaning even when I can’t. So, I turn to the little things like birds and flowers, happy people, music, dogs, the market in our town, and traveling anywhere that I can manage. These things don’t ever quite push the clouds completely away, but they help, and I do find joy for a while almost every day.
I’ve had trouble sleeping for my normal 8 hours, and I’ve NEVER had trouble sleeping for longer than a night or two. Thankfully, I don’t really have trouble falling asleep, but I struggle to STAY asleep. I’ve been so tired that I tend to fall asleep early, and then I wake up at 2 or 3 wide awake. Previously in my life, I could have managed to go back to sleep, and if time allowed, my favorite thing was to sleep late. There never was a problem staying up late and getting up late. I have never really been a morning person even when I had to be. UNTIL NOW……I’m up at 4 making dog biscuits, writing, reading, drinking coffee, and waiting impatiently for my favorite 5 am morning news show to come on. WAITING on a 5.AM.NEWS.SHOW! Who is this person? And why on earth does she want to do everything except exercise at 4am?
I explain this crazy early morning phenomenon by going back to the hell reference. Getting up super early has always been something I’ve hated, so it stands to reason that in hell, I would be required to do so. I realize that’s a silly reference, but sometimes that’s exactly how I feel.
My son dying has put me in this place and in this category that no one should have to be. I HATE all the things that I somehow must explain now…..those questions like, “How many kids do you have?”, “How old are your children?”, and even this one still, “Are you married?” get me. I can answer with 2 plus a bonus daughter. Easy. But then, do I answer 22 because that’s how old he WOULD be, or do I answer 21 because that’s how old he was when he died, or do I say he’s in heaven, or do I leave him out, or do I tell people that he’s dead and I miss him more than anyone could possibly imagine? Which of those answers are appropriate?
I was at the fringe of a conversation recently where someone was talking about a teenager who was killed in a car wreck 20 years ago and how the parents never got over it. The mom apparently just can’t be normal. She has issues. The person telling the story said, “Of course she isn’t okay. I can’t imagine how she ever could be.”
Is that what people say about me now? Or will say about me 20 years from now? I kind of wish for this response because I know that I will never be normal. Maybe I should act out more because I don’t want anyone to ever forget him or the person that the world lost that day! But then, I also don’t want to be a burden to people or lash out at others because I’m hurting. Everyone has enough of their own hardships and worries.
Losing a child, husband, and mother so closely together opens up the game of comparisons. They are all such painful losses and yet so very different. Future, present, past. It’s all covered. The feeling of loss and extreme loneliness is immeasurable. How could one possibly fill up the holes left by those individuals? One can’t, of course. Sometimes it seems those wide awake early morning hours are there to taunt me and clearly remind me of the losses. That must be why I desperately try to fill the time. Time can be a great bully. But then, it can also be a healer. Though imperfect, it is one of the few healers available to us. Time plus that personal favorite, Hope, can bring solace.