Sunday, May 8, 2016

#SOL16: Acceptance is Slippery

Devon at 6 months. Rob took this picture. We got little sleep then.

I am writing a response to Bonnie who commented on another post and I find myself writing about acceptance.
Acceptance is slippery. I filter many events and situations through the acceptance of Rob's death. Today is mother's day and my husband is not here with us. Each event and many small inconsequential situations pull me head first into the reality that Rob has died. I thought we would have at least another 25 years together. I hope acceptance comes. This is very hard.
Acceptance is slippery, elusive even, especially on holidays. I am realizing that most every event gets filtered through the truth that Rob has died. Rob is dead. He is no longer here with me or Dev. And though these are often gut wrenching thoughts and days, it is the small seemingly inconsequential happenings that slay me most.

For example, today on my way home from the transcendental meditation class I am finishing up, I stopped at our pharmacy to get Allegra D for Devon. He took the last pill this morning. He suffers with seasonal allergies this time of year and though they end as quickly as they arrive, he is now in the thick of it. At the pharmacy, I learned I could not buy the over the counter medicine. Due to a federal pseudoephedrine drug statute, the amount of product sold over the counter is limited by the amount of pseudoephedrine that can be purchased in a month.  Having bought a 10-pill package 10 days ago, I have hit the limit.

Denied.

In the past, this was never an issue as Rob and I would take turns purchasing Devon's allergy medicine. Now with Rob gone, there isn't anyone else at home who can help. Next year Devon reminds me that he will be 18 during allergy season and with a license he can purchase the medicine himself.

So I was a bit lost standing in the pharmacy wondering how I was going to make sure my son had the medicine that most helps him right now. I was quickly remembering the year Devon spent 5 days in the hospital due to a severe asthma reaction to seasonal allergies. Then, Rob and I took turns sleeping in the hospital next to our son. What could I do today? Understanding the dilemma, a person who was also at the pharmacy told me quietly that she would buy the allergy medicine for me and we could exchange goods for cash outside. This person's kindness undid me and after giving her cash for the purchase and taking the small bag in hand, I sobbed all the way home, having to turn off the road and sit for a bit before traveling on.

I felt so lost and yes, I felt sorry for myself, imagining so many celebrating the day with families intact. But feeling sorry isn't something I do for any length of time. It is simply too destructive. So after crying a bit and returning home, I decided to take a walk and even though I was an emotional mess, I stopped at my neighbor's home across the street and she hugged me and listened. Touch matters so. For awhile, I just couldn't stop crying. People's kindness seems to make me cry more. What with it being Mother's Day, my mom's death anniversary this week, and of course, my husband's death two months ago today I was a mess. I hadn't even noticed today marked two months since Rob died. I think the body knows what the mind blocks.
Devon's gift that I love.

The anniversary of my mother's death has often hit me hard. Last year in April, I wrote about her passing in the post, What it Was I Was Listening For and back in 2012 I wrote about her death in the post, Loss is the sound without word.   Rob helped me through my mom's death--immediately after and in each of the fifteen years he lived beyond her. During the last two years, he helped me to see that how I respond to her death each year is a choice I make and last year, Mother's Day was peaceful and one I spent gardening. This peacefulness that Rob helped me to achieve was a gift I could not know then would be so special.

This year crashing into Mother's Day and feeling the loss of my husband, I found talking with my neighbor helped. Being vulnerable, sharing the pain is cathartic. We stood outside in her garden and I cried off and on and we just talked until the tears were gone. Awhile later, I was on my way to walk, feeling calmer, more settled. When I returned home, Devon and I talked and it was a delight when the bell rang and I received a gift from my son--fresh fruit from Edible Arrangements.

I want you to know that there is no consistent recovery from a husband's death, especially a husband who dies several decades early. The shock obliterates. There is little emotional consistency at all in my life. I cry every day, but I find these days that I only sob out of control 2 or 3 times a week. The only way through this immense loss is to continue to feel what I feel, to talk it out, to write, make art, love my son, and walk. I realize as I write this that in the time since Rob's death I could have walked nearly to Montreal as I've walked so much.

Grief makes life unsteady. I'm reminded of the mantra Rob lived by: The only way out is through. 




10 comments:

  1. The only way out is through...but there is no map, and the way is not easy. But you have Rob, your North Star, and how he would have wanted you to make your way through.

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    1. I talk to Rob especially in times of great stress. There is no map and he is my true north. Thank you Tara for that gentle reminder.

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  2. The only way out is through, yes!
    Only two months... I was such a mess after just that first two months, sleeping in a Lazy Boy bought for Tuvia. He sat in it just 15 minutes. Two months.. I was not in a place of acceptance. So much happens to us in time... So glad you have a son, good friends, walking, writing, being creative, working... so many things to fill your spaces. I used to hate it when people said that time helps... moving in time helps... yes, it does... but the road ahead is challenging...
    I'm on this journey right with you Mary Ann... We are moving through it...
    Bonnie

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    1. Bonnie, I love that distinction--moving in time helps. Moving in time, yes. Thank you for your kindness and words.

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    2. Come to Nyack for coffee on my porch 😎☕️

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    3. Bonnie, I would like that very much. I have exhibited art work at The Hopper House in Nyack so the town is a bit familiar.

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  3. I am not sure acceptance is what happens...

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    1. I will be able to hold on to and perhaps even understand that Rob is gone from here for longer periods than I now do. That is a type of acceptance I think. But I do see why you raise the issue if it is acceptance that happens as slippages from knowing to not knowing I imagine will continue to occur as well. Acceptance is a foreign word in many ways. It doesn't fit the mouth.

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  4. Complete stranger chiming in--
    When I\my mom died five years ago, I bitterly resented being told that time would heal. (Though I had the self-awareness to not blow up at those who were only trying to offer comfort.) The thought of healing, of being okay with her absence, of "acceptance," seemed like a betrayal. I eventually came to a place that she herself had told me about loss. It's never okay, you never stop missing them and wishing they were still with you, but you learn how to live with that. That knowledge helped me get through the loss of my dad a few years later. Yet if I imagine losing my husband, I'm sure it would be a long time before I could look unflinchingly at my grief.

    The only helpful thing I heard when I was grieving was from an acquaintance who told me "There is no wrong way to grieve."

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    1. Yes, there are no rules to grieving. And there ought be no judgments too. Loss is hard in ways words do little to convey. Thanks Wendy for reading, witnessing, commenting.

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