Written October 3, 2010 8:05pm
I have been reading Thomas Moore, Dark Nights of the Soul. Jasper is reading the new Steven Hawking…probably a better choice. I am a bit confused. I picked up my book, because the hospice volunteer brought it, but also because I have been just so, so, so sad. There are days when just getting bills paid, getting the lawn cut, getting dinner on for 2 hungry boys (have you ever seen someone on steroids eat? It is amazing!), feels like all I can do.
The book talks about surrendering to the dark, to the night, to insomnia, to your dreams, to that “small still voice within”. It also talks about the importance of maintaining contact with the “real” world. I wonder where is the balance? I know I need the dark…I fantasize..not about a trip to Tuscany or Peru, but a trip to Ireland, or even Iceland, in the Winter, alone. It talks about the importance of ritual. Do rituals of Sunday breakfast with friends, early morning runs/swims, sending Jim out on a bike ride despite ongoing seizures, count as ritual?
And what if this is all a parallel universe, as Steven Hawking says? Jasper thinks, that if it is, Jim is happy. I hope so. He also says that if we slip into that universe, where brain cancer does not exist, there would be too many paradoxes. I tend to agree.
I don’t know. That makes me a firm agnostic. I do know that we have a Sunday evening ritual that includes The Simpsons. 7pm, 8c. That….I understand.
Reading this post from 3 years ago, I can still feel the pain of that sadness. Depression. It is a part of grief. The first time it hits with full force, it is scary. It’s a deep darkness where words often don’t reach in and they don’t come out. It can be triggered by a song, by a smell, by a sight, or simply by a change in seasons. It is a place referred to as the valley of darkness, the pit of despair, the long slide, the abyss.
There is no end of advice regarding depression. Exercise, eat well, rest even if you can’t sleep, reach out to friends, take up a new hobby. It’s all good advice, and it helps, but the part that is scary is not knowing when, if ever, it will end. And wondering, and questioning if you have enough strength and the right climbing equipment to make it back up to the rim. Back to the light. Back among the living, the joyful.
I can’t count the number of folks that recommended medication for my early stages of grief. I resisted, probably for the same reason I resisted hormone replacement during menopause. Both are natural states. Sadness is a normal response to a loved one’s illness and resultant death. I think I also knew that if I blunted the pain of sadness with drugs, I would also feel less of the joy that each new day brings.
I learned that if I opened up my heart to all that was my life, I would feel sad, but the joy was always there, too. I learned that the sadness does not last, and I always gained insight into something about myself while I wallowed in the pit. I was able to find the right tools, I did climb out, and each time I did, it got a little easier, and the next dip into the darkness became a little less scary.
Folks don’t know what to do when you are sad. They either want to run away, or figure out a way to fix it, to jolly you up. Jasper, as a colicky infant and a crabby toddler, taught me a lot about what human beings really need when their hearts hurt. Just need someone to stand by without judgement, someone who trusts that “this too, shall pass.” Someone to walk and work beside you without words. Someone to hold you gently, to be careful with your heart, to love you no matter what. But, if none of that works, there are always campfires, moonlight, good wine, and chocolate!