Saturday, January 8, 2011

Messages, Empathy, Looking Forward, and a "Sister's" gift

I survived the two year anniversary. By that I mean I am breathing. I'm still amazed that losing Cliff hasn't killed me. During the first year, I assumed that I would not survive, and I couldn't have cared less. In fact, I hoped for release. The second anniversary brought a tsunami of longing and pain so colossal that I again wondered if it would destroy me. Mentally or physically. I had to grieve so deeply and accept the pain with open arms, just as I had embraced his love. I went to that deep, dark place and cried, mourning him on a primal level again ... making those sounds with a voice that I did not recognize as my own. It's a different cry, the cry of mourning. It sounds different, it feels different ... it's ... primal. Then, just as the force of the tsunami started to dissipate ... just as I felt defeated ... exhausted ... I screamed out loud, "I MISS YOU" and turned on the TV to check the time (no idea why). And stood there amazed, mouth agape, staring at Buzz Lightyear reminding me to aim for "infinity and beyond". I smiled and said to Cliff, "I hear you." Now I'm not ga-ga enough to think that Cliff arranged for that clip to be aired, however, it was strange that I happened to have that particular channel on ... and also that I turned the TV on at the precise moment that the 5 second clip was being televised. I got the message ... that I've grieved in this way long enough. By that I mean, I've stood still for two years. Yes, I've made headway. I've grown. I've understood. I've learned. But everything I've accomplished has been on an intellectual or spiritual level. I knew in that moment, that I now have to start moving ... I've got to take those Santa's down, clear away his mug and dish that remain by his bedside. I've got to physically take those steps so that my home "catches up" with my mindset. Otherwise I will get stuck where I am. Crystal clear clarity. Then, upon feeling a need to connect to this world again, I checked Facebook and Megan had sent me a poem. As I read it, I felt a feeling of calm ... reminding me that although Cliff was dead, that he was still in existence, that I would see him again one day ... just not in the form that we had last been together.

Talk about messages.

My best girlfriend, Vicki phoned me last night to tell me that on January 6th she had woken up ... and thought to herself, "I can't do today," meaning she couldn't get dressed, go to college, or do anything that was routine for that day. She shared that she thought she had absorbed some of my pain and loss, and that for that day alone, it had manifested itself as a flu bug ... except that flu bugs don't last for only one day as hers did.

I laughed wryly and told her that I had reacted the self same way. That I too had fallen ill with the same bug, except that mine lasted for two days - the 5th and the 6th. That I'd had a painful throat, temperature, cough, cold ... even my eyes and ears were affected. But by Friday lunchtime, I had magically recovered.

She should have been firing on all cylinders having been given a clean bill of health after her mammogram the day before. Wild horses wouldn't keep her from attending her Interior Design Course - ill or not - usually.

Talk about empathy.

Another friend (from school) Kathy, phoned me from Sweden to see how I was faring on the second anniversary. She had re-read the Eulogy before calling and wanted to know when I was planning on visiting her. I told her that I wasn't because I'd hoped that we could travel to Africa together instead. For me, Kathy is the obvious person to visit Africa with, having been born and brought up on her family farm in Kenya. I suggested that we could go to South Africa and plan the trip so that we could meet up with both of our sisters (as mine goes there annually and her sister lives there), before going on to see her family in Kitale. She quickly agreed with one proviso. That we cross the border into Uganda to see the gorillas. I tell you, I couldn't hang that phone up fast enough so that I could surf and source possible places to stay ... and I may have found the perfect resort.

Talk about something to look forward to.

And upon returning to work on Friday, I received a gift from Suzann in the post. A book. I read it in two sittings. I found solace in the fact that I recognized my own feelings, thoughts and actions within its pages ... at times being surprised that some of the advice therein (at my stage) was stuff that I had only decided to do this week (such as making scrapbooks and photo albums) and that I often listen to Adagio for Strings (don't crucify me for loving this version), not just because I love it, but because I need to hear it as it expresses how I feel where words fail me. But most importantly, it compounded my intuition ... that I have to start making practical progress. It reminded me that one always has a choice. And I sure as hell am not going to be a widow stuck in this half-alive/half-dead state forever. How can I justify that? It was "right" for me to stand still for two years, but I know that I would not be honouring him if I stay here longer. It will be hard. I will fall over. But I'm going to do this. I'm going to take the harder more courageous path. For him. And for the first time in two years ... for me too.

Talk about a gift. (and perfectly timed)


  1. I'm cheering you on, Boo! Can you hear me?? :)
    You're right .... you'll still fall down, but you'll get up quicker.
    Love to you!!

  2. This is the part I love..."for me too." Because you deserve this and so much more Boo. You have too much to give the world to allow grief to win. Fight on my friend.

  3. Inspirational post. I'm cheering you on from here!

  4. Yes, you are an inspirational read this morning Boo. It's great to see you seizing life by the scruff of the neck and starting to act again.
    So take down those Santas, write "I love you Cliff" in the dust and put them away safely somewhere you can find them again easily if you need them.

  5. I read this book in year two was a real turn around a corner for me. I'm glad you found it. I remember reading and feeling her pain and thinking she could feel mine through her words.

  6. sorry Christine, I missed your comment somehow so v late replying ... yes, it is a turning point for me too. Wonderfully written and smart, yet speaks to me in simple language. It speaks to me, not many books on this subject do!