Tag Archives: Grief

Of Hats and Flasks and Hearts Tied Up with String

I heard them before I saw them. A murmured, “Dad, there’s Denise.” It didn’t register. I continued to stare blankly at a rack of men’s crewneck sweatshirts. I was in Target, and my youngest son was shopping. He’d been trying on knitted hats in there for the better part of two decades, maybe three, I don’t know. I’d lost track of time. So. Many. Hats. I felt desolate, saw only darkness. Would’ve shot off a flare if I’d had one handy. It was a bleak and humorless existence. I had to pee, and my feet had swelled from standing so long. I was cursing myself for having never gotten into the habit of sporting a hip flask. Every hat looked the same; I could’ve sworn he was fucking with me. Just as I felt myself slip further into the maw of boredom, I heard them calling my name. Repeatedly. Pulling me back from the point of no return. Dazed, I looked up.

There they were, CAF’s family. It was a shock, and I gasped. Loudly. Embarrassingly. The kind of gasp you see a heroine in a shitty movie do. Oh, why don’t I carry a flask? CAF’s widower and her eldest child were smiling broadly at me. It felt like old times, kind of… Yet, what was this? There, hidden just slightly out of view, was her youngest. There was the boy who was too young to remember the catastrophic Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection in CAF – the event that began the end of her life. This had not been my first time seeing the family. At the end of August, CAF’s widower and her eldest son showed up at a memorial service for a family member of my husband’s. It was kind of them to come, but as I hadn’t expected them nor seen them in years, and as I was at a memorial service, it became too much. I burst into tears and ran outside. My sons were quickly behind me, making sure all was well. It wasn’t, and I felt fragile, like my heart, badly tied up with string, just had its knot come undone.

This time was different. It was friendlier, happier, and because her youngest boy was there. He didn’t remember me, and most likely no longer remembers his mother – but oh! how darling he was! His face, so like hers – only in miniature. I asked if I could hug him. His father said yes; the boy remained quiet but gave me a gentle squeeze back – more out of politeness than anything else. He was painfully shy, as anyone would be who’s lived through what he has. He didn’t look at me accusatorially, none of them did. I suppose it’s just me. All I felt was guilt; the self-whispers of “murderer” and “killer” going round in my head. Her children never denounced me – never pointed at me and asked, “WHY DID YOU KILL OUR MOTHER?! WHY?!”

I’m sure it was later explained to the wee one that I was his mother’s closest friend. That I was the there the day she passed, the one who held her hand as she died. Hopefully it was not explained that I had to be the one to convince his father to pull life support…

Seeing CAF’s husband is getting easier, and I’m glad her eldest boy remembered me. I still haven’t seen her daughter, who supposedly looks and acts just like CAF. I don’t know whether she’d remember me. They are a beautiful family, and I’m glad to see them happy. I hope at some point to put this all behind me, but for now, it’s just pain and self-recrimination. Whether my part in this all was “merciful” or not, it left its mark – one I’ll never heal from.

Last night as I decorated the interior of my house for the holidays, I came across several Christmas pieces CAF had given me over the years. Strangely, 3 of them are angels. I cry every year…

Ho, ho, fucking ho.

Image

Advertisements

Ushering Ants

The other day I came up the hall to find a line of ants marching at eye-level on the wall in the foyer. As there is neither food nor water in the foyer, I found this interesting. They came in under the front door, crawled up the closet, moseyed around the corner to some shelves, turned around and left. This went on for a day or two – with me cautioning my family to “Watch out for the ants! Don’t lean on the wall, you might squash one!” This was met with the usual “Uh huh.”

One night as I came up the hall, I stopped and watched their journey. Something about the procession was soothing – the way the ones coming greeted those who were leaving. My husband walked up behind me and muttered, “Would you like me to get you an ant farm? Then you can watch them all the time – and they won’t be loose – in our house.”

It didn’t bother me that the ants were loose, because I knew they’d do what ants always do – leave. There was no reason to be alarmed or kill them – and it was certainly not an infestation. It was only about 20 of the wee fellows – coming and going.

For those of you who know me, the fact I allowed the ants to come and go as they pleased will not surprise you. For those who don’t know me, I’ll explain. I’m vegetarian. I kill nothing. I’m kind and compassionate to everything — even people who hurt me and (as I’m told) “don’t deserve kindness or compassion… or your friendship – because they’re playing games with you, they’re cowardly, and they’re an asshole.” 

Today I woke to find 3 ants aimlessly wandering the kitchen tiles. These I had to usher out. Not for my sake, mind you, but theirs. That’s a dangerous place to wander – a lot more risk of being smashed than when they’re eye-level on a wall. I didn’t want that on my conscience. I put each of them outside to join a line of ants marching by my rose and wisteria bushes. There was much antennae-waving before they got in line and crawled up the branches with the rest of their cohorts. It made me smile, that welcoming back into the fold – like old friends reuniting.

I often find beauty and smiles in places others don’t. But lately I’ve not seen a lot of beauty or smiles. And lately I’m the ant wandering out in the open on the kitchen tiles – exposed, vulnerable – with people and forces coming along trying to smash me. The past few weeks have been especially hard. The day after my return from a glorious birthday trip to NYC, we unexpectedly lost a family member. It was devastating – and it fell to me to tell my children and husband. The grief overwhelmed. To add to this, the following week, I had to put our beloved dog down. She had been part of our family since 1997. This was all so much death – so much grief, in so short a time. I needed to unplug and get away from people – especially those who didn’t have my best interests at heart. I needed to talk to real friends – old friends – the ones who’d always be with me, no matter what. These friends hurt when I hurt – and I’m hurting now. They’ve been kind enough to get behind me, trying to usher me on, and when I rise slowly to the surface again, I know I’ll be greeted with much antennae-waving by them. I’m blessed.

Waiting.

It was 7 years ago today that I took her life. In so many ways it seems like it was just yesterday. I can practically smell the sterilized hospital. Hear the click of shoes, the hum of voices. Feel the resignation in the room. I still have the lump in my throat and the heavy weight on my heart. The heart is such a weak little organ, after all.

I know exactly where I was at this moment that day. What I was doing. Can retrace my steps from the moment I woke up. It’s funny because usually I’m such a dumbass, I can’t remember what I had for dinner the night before, if I had anything. But that day, and my actions, and their effect are indelibly etched in my brain. The doctors buzzed about. The nurses swarmed. And I waited. Waited for the end to come. Waited for yet another thing to make me feel like a piece of shit.

I seem to wait for things a lot – I’ve realized that in the last 7 years. I have done a bit of growing. I know I spend far too much time dwelling on the past. But I also spend too much time waiting.

I wait for people – even ones not worth waiting for.

I wait for literary agents to respond to queries about my manuscript.

I wait for my sudden longings to put fingers to keyboard or brush to canvas and create. 

I wait for calls, texts, emails.

I wait at traffic lights.

I wait for the dermatologist to tell me I have skin cancer. Again.

I wait to catch a glimpse of my sweet boy on campus before he spots me and heads to my car.

I wait for my eldest to come home from college, so I can hold him close and see him tucked safely in bed at night.

But today I only wait for that fateful hour to start, where I can count down the 38 minutes it took for me to watch my friend die. How unlucky was she at the end – alone, but for me in the room? We waited together.

Heart Fail-her

When I met her in high school, she was the freckled girl with the broad smile and convertible red Mercedes – always fun and lively. I had no idea that before my 40th birthday, I’d take her life.

In school she was a grade younger than me. We met when my friend Wendy brought her into our fold. It was a wild night, one Millicent and I both remember… CAF, as I’ll call her, handled our teen girl craziness with aplomb.

After high school, when most of my friends went away to college, CAF and I remained in San Diego to study. We hung out quite a bit and, one fateful night, met the two men we’d eventually marry. They were best friends. This could, on occasion, be a real pain in the ass.

Five years before CAF gave birth to her first child, I had mine. CAF and her husband were (for the most part) supportive of this change in group dynamics.

Three months after CAF became pregnant with her first child, I became pregnant with my second. It was nice to go through it together. CAF went on to have two more children. It was shortly after the birth of her third that our lives were forever altered.

I was at the office. I worked full-time back then. I was Director of Administration for a real estate development firm here in San Diego. The call came through from my husband saying CAF was in the hospital. She’d had a heart attack. As CAF was a year and a half younger than me, I had a hard time believing this. She was 33. She’d been taken to the hospital closest to her house. I rushed there and heard the impossible news: Not only had she suffered a heart attack but the hospital (once they’d harvested her artery) realized they were way out of their league. They needed to ship her to a hospital that specialized in her type of rare cases. Rare cases?! We were baffled.

It turns out CAF suffered what is called Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection, a rare condition that occurs after the birth of several children. This was three months after the birth of her last child. All arteries leading to the entire left side of her heart were shredded. She had also suffered a stroke.

She was flown to a sister hospital, which was unable to do more than poke at her. They, too, were out of their league. Next she was flown downtown. We all drove down separately, a somber, disbelieving group. After many hours, they came out to tell us that they’d put CAF into a medically induced coma. They would put an LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device) in to replace the left side of her heart. We could go in and see her if we wished. I waited until her husband had already left the room before I went in. CAF was suddenly the Bionic Woman, lying there with a metal rod sticking out of her head, and her entire chest cavity cut open, covered only by what appeared to be Saran Wrap. This image still haunts me. I saw the inner workings of the human body. I wish I could forget it.

Because she was a strong woman, she came through that all right and was put on the heart transplant list. In the years she had with us post-LVAD, she learned to adapt to life with the heavy outer battery pack strapped to her waist. The thing weighed 4 pounds and the power cord went in through a hole in her side. We always had to carry a spare battery when we left the house in case of emergencies. At night CAF was plugged into a power source, not the batteries. CAF forever wore the scars of her trauma, a slice from her neck all the way down to her left foot. When I’d remark on how brave or strong she was, she’d say she was just grateful to be able to raise her children, to get to know her baby and have him know his mommy…

The rhythmic ‘whoosh whoosh whoosh’ of her blood being pumped by the LVAD was jarring at first but then became a pleasant aspect of life with CAF. We made plans to celebrate our 40th birthdays in Paris. Just us two. It was something to cling to. CAF was a brilliant interior decorator and her house was always ready for Architectural Digest. Whereas mine looked like a bomb had exploded… Sometimes she’d remark upon this but not with as much frequency as she had before her LVAD. Perhaps we both realized what was important?

CAF and I routinely hung out, as usual. Dinners, drinks, movies, shopping. If it wasn’t just us, it was my family of four and her family of five. This would be the last time my husband and I would share similar friends.

One day years later, the call came that CAF had been put in hospital with severe pain. When I called to check up on her, she said she had been in pain and feverish for a few weeks but waited until her insurance could cover it before going into the hospital. She couldn’t afford to go sooner… By then, her appendix had burst, blowing away a good part of her intestines. This was indeed a setback. Her pain and fever increased. They loaded her up on antibiotics to make sure bacteria wouldn’t affect her heart. After testing the appendix, they found something alarming: it was riddled with cancer. She couldn’t catch a break. They needed to take her off the heart transplant list now that she had this disease. It had spread to her lymph nodes and, as such, she would now be incapable of taking the immunosuppressant necessary to prepare her for a transplant. Had she taken the medicine, the cancer would have run riot. As it was, the cancer was a wait-and-see measure. This particular kind goes away when the affected host organ is removed. And so it did.

It was several years later that CAF suffered a massive stroke. She was wheelchair bound and needed to learn to speak and eat all over again. She would grow frustrated, as you can imagine, yet still had a twinkle in her eye when we’d sit and watch movies together. She was still in there. She lost energy quickly, however, and I guess I didn’t want to think that another stroke was imminent. Months later, it came.

There were no more cognitive moments for CAF. She’d suffered this stroke while asleep. It was one of her children who’d found her. CAF had always doted on her children. That it was one of them who discovered her makes the story that much more brutal. Every day for weeks (maybe a month? maybe more?), I’d go down to the hospital, Red Bull in hand, and sit for hours at her bedside. Sometimes her husband was there, sometimes he’d just left. When we’d pass, he was always positive. He believed each day that CAF had blinked in response to something he’d said or squeezed his hand. This always puzzled me as I never got responses. Never.

One day as I was leaving, I was waylaid in the corridor by a nurse and the lead cardiologist. They explained the facts: CAF was brain-dead. She wasn’t in there anymore. They’d tried explaining to her husband but he wouldn’t listen. He clung to the belief that he’d have his wife and the mother of his very young children back. According to her medical team, she would never come back, and he needed to pull her life support and move on. Could I please explain that to him? they asked. I said, “No. I’m vegetarian. I don’t even kill ants or gnats.” I wouldn’t be the one to tell him he needed to kill his wife. I wouldn’t tell him he had to kill my friend. They, however, were adamant. I was the only one they could prevail upon, the only one he’d listen to. CAF’s biological family was scattered and didn’t get on with her husband.  They stopped coming after the first day. They knew what we’d failed to acknowledge. There was no coming back. And his family seldom came to the hospital. It was just the two of us every day.

On the agreed upon date, I brought CAF’s husband into the hospital conference room to meet the team of cardiologists, neurosurgeons and neurologists. There they explained the facts to him. He turned to me in a state of denial and I did what needed to be done. He took my advice. I felt like the Grim Reaper.

Days leading up to it, he’d bring the 3 kids in to “Say bye to mommy.” It was horrible to witness. On the 3rd day of this trauma, the head on a ceramic angel sitting on a nearby table fell off of its own accord, rolled across the tabletop and hit the floor. I told him then it was enough. Just pick a damn day and stop bringing the kids in! They’d said their goodbyes. They needn’t be permanently scarred anymore than necessary.

It was decided we wouldn’t let her go on Memorial Day because he’d always remember that. He chose June 1st. We went and picked out her coffin together. We picked out her plot together. It was very near her mom’s…

The day dawned brutally hot. I remember worrying about after school care for my kids as I drove to the hospital. Who’d watch them? I knew I’d be in no shape to care for them. Thankfully I needn’t have worried. Friends and family are exceptionally kind in circumstances such as this. CAF’s husband was there waiting for me along with his mother. No one from CAF’s family was there. The doctors came in, the nurses were unobtrusive. The machine was turned off, stopping the rhythmic ‘whoosh whoosh whoosh’ that had been such a part of our lives for years. It took about two minutes before CAF’s husband fled. The sounds of her body gasping was more than he could bear. His mother ran out to care for him. I continued to sit there, holding her hand and talking to her in my stupid inconsequential way that I’d always done. Blathering away. Saying nothing of import. I told her I was sorry that I’d done this to her. I told her I loved her. And I told her I’d wait a good while in the room after she’d gone so she’d know I was there. When I looked up, I realized even the nurses had fled. I was alone. It took a long time…

I came home, went to my room, drank four beers in rapid succession, and fielded texts and calls from my best friends. By the time Andy phoned, I was fairly incoherent. I get the feeling he’d been rehearsing his comfort speech all day, bless him. It didn’t help but whenever I think of that day, I think of him trying so hard to spare me what I wouldn’t spare myself. What I still haven’t. I think of him standing in the hallway outside a convention in Las Vegas telling me I did a good thing. If anyone could get through to me, it would have been him. It didn’t work. I haven’t been the same since that day, as you can imagine. I refer to it as “The Day I Killed CAF”. I think of it in no other way than I killed her. I convinced her husband to do it and I alone remained to watch her final gasp. I figure when I make it to the other side, the enormity of my transgression will be too great to get me a pardon. I’ll have to come back in my next life as a downtrodden soul… Or perhaps a factory farm animal.

I think I’ve referenced the memorial service for CAF in another blog post on here. It is one of the few times I can honestly say I was proud of myself. There were well over 100 people in attendance at the church, CAF was very loved and respected for not only her interior design work but also for having fought so hard for so long. I stood before them and talked about my friend. I dug my fingernails into my palms to prevent myself from crying, and I concentrated on the lovely caws coming from the crows just outside the door. People still remark on how I stood there tear-free. They’ve no idea how those crows saved me.

I was talking with Wendy and Millicent this morning on Facebook about our old fun times. It made me cringe, reminding me of my deed. CAF’s birthday is fast approaching. I never do well this time of year. I need to go visit her grave but the thought of doing so makes me physically sick. And it’s worse because I’m the only one who does visit. Two years after her death, it had to be me that reported to the maintenance crew that her grave had started to slide down the hill due to heavy winter rains. I haven’t been out there in years. I know I should go…

One of the things I’d told CAF as she passed was that I’d make sure her children were all right. I failed her in that as much as I failed her as a friend. Thankfully, my assistance wasn’t needed for more than 3 or 4 months after her death. CAF’s husband met a charming woman with 4 kids and they were married soon after. I like to think CAF played a part in that. The family continues to do well.

My guilt remains.

Impenetrable

And so it passed:

The birthday of the friend I watched die. It was last week. I didn’t go to her grave this year. I’ve stopped doing that. The last time I’d gone, her grave had slid down the hill because of torrential rains. I had to report that to the office there at the cemetery. Of course it would be me. Her own family doesn’t visit her grave.

And so it passed:

Without me shedding a tear. I think my son expected it. He watched me a few times that day waiting for that or for me to withdraw into myself. I didn’t. I had an art project, a gift, that was occupying my time. I was busy agonizing whether the portrait I was doing actually looked like this person it was meant to or whether it looked like I painted it with my toes whilst high on crack. That was easier to focus on than to remember the shuddering sounds of a body shutting down against its will. It’s a long process, that shutting down.

And so it passed:

Without me thinking about going in day after day, week after week, to sit there and watch as her husband deluded himself into believing that her eyes were much more lively that day. Couldn’t I see it? Look, she’s responding.

And so it passed:

Without me thinking about those three beautiful children coming in a few days in a row to “say goodbye to Mommy.” The head that had previously resided on the ceramic angel on the table there suddenly snapped off on its own and rolled across the surface and onto the floor during that final goodbye. It needed to be done. And soon.

And so it passed:

Without me dwelling on how those three beautiful children will not remember how warm, funny, gracious and talented their mother was. How much she loved and doted on them.

And so it passed:

Without me damning myself for being there. For being the only one there. For having the courage to remain while everyone else crumbled and left her alone in that room to take her last breath. No one deserves to die alone – let alone someone you love. It’s a final gift to remain there with them.

And so this too shall pass:

My friend told me a few days ago that I’ve done “a damn good job” of “freezing” chambers of my heart, one by one. That I’m in danger of becoming numb. I don’t think he knows what he’s talking about. He’s English. He can’t help it. All I know is that her birthday passed and next week another anniversary of sorts will pass. A time when I walked away from a friendship that cost me more to be in than it gave in return. I gave a final gift then, too. A painting. With the humor the universe possesses, this painting seems to be everyone’s favorite in my catalog of work. No. I won’t make you one. Next week, as my friend says, I shall be “impenetrable.” And he says this with no sense of irony. Personally I think he’s full of crap. I passed a dead bunny in the road yesterday and it made me weep. Poor little fuzz ball.

Real Friends are the Wheat in Life

I was talking with a dear friend the other day. We were discussing stress and health and friendships. When an individual is experiencing persistent stress, or a traumatic event, you can tell a lot about their friends by how they act and react. Stress separates the wheat from the chaff (in friendships). Not all “friends” are created equal.

My friends know I’ve spent far too much of my life visiting loved ones in hospitals and at the doctors’.  My closest friends could probably recite each incident! I got an early start in life having to cope with these visits. Through all of them, I’ve had a core group of friends that held me up while I watched others suffer. My close friends are not the type that say, “Oh, I’m so sorry” and wander off. They’re not the “It’ll be OK” type. My closest friends are the ones that call and offer the sun, the moon, and the stars – or an evening out! That behavior, to me, defines friendship.

I realize everyone is different, and some people are uncomfortable with doctors and hospitals. I also realize some people just don’t know how to act and react when someone they’re friends with gets bad news or is ill. I, unfortunately, know how to react in these situations. It’s been drilled into me from encounters with loved ones with heart problems, strokes, and cancer. I’m not going to say it came easily, but it came.

A lot of times people are uncomfortable dealing with friends in these situations so they give a weak, “I’m so sorry. Let me know if there’s anything I can do” and then they totter off, grateful it isn’t happening to them. “What if I say the wrong thing?” they ask in an attempt to make themselves feel better for putting space between them and their friend’s struggles. Look, unless you’re suddenly going to lose complete control of your senses and begin babbling like an idiot, you’re not going to “say the wrong thing.” Tears and shows of emotion aren’t “the wrong thing.” It shows your friends/loved ones that you care and are concerned. That their pain weighs heavily on you. At the end of the day, remember, this isn’t about you. It’s about your friend and what you can do to offer support.

In writing this blog, I went on Cancer.Net and checked out their suggestions for supporting a friend who has cancer. It gave great advice that can be applied to any major health trauma. It was as follows:

  • Give your friend space, but offer to visit whenever he or she would like.

  • Make flexible plans that can be easily changed, in case something comes up or your friend needs to cancel.

  • Make plans for the future—this gives your friend something to look forward to.

  • Be humorous and fun when appropriate and when needed.

  • Allow for sadness—do not ignore uncomfortable topics or feelings.

  • Make time for a weekly check-in phone call. Let your friend know when you will be calling, and let your friend know that it is okay to not answer the phone.

  • When you make a commitment to help, follow through. For example, if you offer to bring a meal over on Sunday, try your best not to forget (post reminders for yourself in an appropriate spot).

  • Try not to let your friend’s condition get in the way of your friendship. Treat him or her the same way you always have.

  • Ask about interests, hobbies, and other topics not related to cancer—people going through treatment sometimes need a break from talking about cancer.

  • If you aren’t sure how to help, ask.

What to say

Here are some simple guidelines to use when talking with your friend.

Avoid saying

I know just how you feel.

You need to talk.

I know just what you should do.

I feel helpless.

I don’t know how you manage.

I’m sure you’ll be fine.

Don’t worry.

How much time do the doctors give you?

Let me know what I can do (instead, offer specific ways in which you can help and things you can provide, should they need to call on you).

Do say

I’m sorry this has happened to you.

If you ever feel like talking, I am here to listen.

What are you thinking of doing, and how can I help?

I care about you.

Just remember, the key point isn’t to make yourself feel better, it’s to be there for your friend – to provide comfort and support. Real friends are there for each other, no matter what. Real friends are the ones that pick up your kids from school, bring you over dinner when you’re too ill to make it yourself, and take you out for a cup of tea and a shoulder to cry on. Real friends are the wheat in life. The chaff you can do without.

No, Really, It All Happened

The days have marched on since my eldest moved away to college. I’ve lost track, to be honest. I know it’s been just a week since the youngest has started high school. Of that I’m certain… I think…

Not that it matters, of course. This isn’t about them but about acceptance. Acceptance is a bitch. It’s not something I’ve ever been good with. Perhaps I felt it competed with my own excellent bitch factor, who knows. From my earliest memories, acceptance and I didn’t see eye-to-eye:

What do you mean I had a baby brother and now I don’t? (I recall this moment with perfect clarity. I looked down and watched my tears hit the parquet flooring far, far below. Funny when you’re small the ground is so far away. I was four or five. That was an early age for such an ugly bit of acceptance. I think that’s what made me dislike her so.)

What do you mean we’re moving from New York?

What do you mean we’re taking a Greyhound Bus to California?

What do you mean I can’t take all my Dr. Seuss books?

Oh, sure, the years passed but the hits just kept on coming…

What do you mean Kirk smiled at another girl today?

What do you mean we don’t have any bread? What am I supposed to spread on my bread if I don’t have any bread to spread it on?

What do you mean you were too busy working to pack me a lunch so you’re sending me to school with a box of donuts?

What do you mean we have to learn The Hustle and perform it live in front of the school?

Flash forward. We needn’t go down the all too painful adolescent stages of life. I’m sure you get the picture.

What do you mean you gave away my cat (fish, birds, etc) while I was away at school?

What do you mean we have to go to the desert for Christmas?

What do you mean he likes me?

As I aged (and, boy, have I) my ability to deal with acceptance hasn’t improved. I think I’ve got an unfair disadvantage though. I’m married. I’ve been married for a long, long, long, long time. That’s forced acceptance – an oppressive and archaic form, but a bleak and grim acceptance nonetheless. Sort of like prison without the great allotted times for exercise, art classes, TV viewing on the big screen…

What do you mean you can’t take the baby to the doctor? I’m working!

What do you mean we’re expected to go to your dad’s house for Christmas?

What do you mean your mom didn’t mean it the way it sounded?

What do you mean you shouldn’t have bought that?!

What do you mean you forgot who you were talking to?!

Ah, marriage. Let’s not trip further down this pot-holed memory lane, it will only piss me off. Let’s move on to other fun-filled moments:

What do you mean she’s had a heart attack?

What do you mean she’s had a stroke?

What do you mean she’s in a coma?

What do you mean we have to take her off life support?

What do you mean she has cancer?

What do you mean she’s got lymphoma?

(And one for a certain Englishman) What do you mean you’re ‘trying’?

I’m not good with acceptance, as I said. I haven’t improved with age in that regard. However, those of you who read these posts regularly will be happy to know that I have mellowed in my dotage. Prove it? Well, OK. The painting that had so plagued me lately has been put off to the side. Most likely I will never finish it. The person to whom it was going will never know I had these plans to surprise them with the gift. There. See? It’s not driving me crazy or anything…

In place of that, I’ve turned my eldest’s room into an art studio. After all, he no longer lives here. I can use that space as I will! I’ve begun my largest oil canvas to date: 30″ x 48″. It is the picture from my last blog post – and, for the first time in many years, this painting is just for me. So far, so good.

I won’t describe how being in my son’s room, listening to music he used to play, and sitting on his bed has made me crumble many times in the last few days. I won’t talk about the many tissues I’ve used, or the stuffed animals I’ve dug up just to give a cuddle to. Instead I will say he texted me yesterday with this: “I just saw your exact car and it bummed me out.” It’s nice to know I’m missed!

I hate acceptance.  But the days march on and each blow we take we learn to accept (in whatever form we can). In some small part of my mind, I’m sure I’m proud of myself for withstanding this much. It’s either accept it, or give in, and you know I hate giving in.