Tuesday, January 16, 2018

#SOL18: After Great Loss Comes Acceptance

Moon Over Field (M.A. Reilly, 2012)

For the first 18 months I was very, very careful. It wasn’t as if I understood the care I took. Rather, it was something that felt essential.  I lived by some adages those first months after Rob's death:

Ensure Devon is well protected, well loved.
Stay healthy.
Minimize risk.
Avoid drama.
Be positive.
Fill life with what is most good. 

I avoided mishaps as best I could because each problem felt so devastating regardless of the problem's actual weight. After such a loss, the smallest concern would derail me. There’s a vulnerability to being sick, to having problems that exacerbated my sense of loneliness.  Each sniffle, cold, or disappointment triggered a feeling of loss. In the aftermath of great loss, life is more tenuous than reliable.

Like water through splayed fingers, that protection slipped greatly these last six months. Acceptance took hold even when it did not announce itself. It came after a challenging fall when I had been sick much of October, November and December with blinding headaches, congestion, and difficulty breathing. I had been seen by an ENT, suffered through a lung x-ray to rule out lung cancer, and swallowed several rounds of steroids and antibiotics that failed to even temporarily fix the sinus infection. It wasn’t until the second ENT said, “Something isn’t right. I want you to take the medicine I’m prescribing and after you finish it, get a CT-scan. Something is causing this infection to resurge.” A day after the scan the doctor phoned and told me there were no blockages and that he thought the source of the infection was an abscess tooth.

“My tooth?”
“I’m not a dentist so I can’t say for sure. But it does look like that on the films. Upper right.”
“I have a tender tooth there. I figured that was because of the sinus infection.”
“When were you last to the dentist?”
“Six months ago. I had a full set of x-rays, no cavities and my teeth were cleaned. I guess I need to make an appointment.”
“Yes, as soon as you can. I’ll have the office put aside your films so you can bring them to your dentist. Let me know what happens.”

A week later my dentist confirmed the abscess and a week after that I had root canal. I returned to the ENT who confirmed the infection was still present and he prescribed more antibiotics and a steroid and told me to come back in two weeks. I returned to have another CT-scan and was able to see the extraordinary difference between the first set of films and the second.

I cried easily those three months, missing Rob deeply. I tended to isolate myself at first because I felt miserable and then because the isolation felt like comfort. What I did not know was I was saying goodbye once again to my husband.  By the second year, Rob was more memory than body.  He was removed from my day-to-day life.  Life resettled and hope once again felt palpable. Acceptance wasn't a decision as I first thought. It was more a process that arose in time.

That adage about time healing all wounds feels wiser these days.


  1. You always remind me how fragile life is. Today I learned even more. I’ve long known problems w/ teeth can have an impact on our health but never imagined such a profound and debilitating one.

    Sending love and thoughts of comfort, peace, and healing to you.

  2. I am amazed that your recurring infection was an abscessed tooth. Who knew? I am sorry you were sick for so long. You are learning to live with loss in a gentle and inspiring way that is an inspiration to others. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Margaret thanks for your concern. Feeling better.

  3. When things go bad other feeling of loneliness and isolation seem to bubble to the top more readily. Glad to hear you are on the mend and can once again think about the adage of time healing all wounds. Take care!

  4. I often read your posts and am struck by the grace in your healing and the honesty of your words. You describe the journey of loss so accurately. Sorry for your extended infection- have never heard of that re a tooth but glad it was discovered and you are on the mend.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.