I am coming off of a sad week. I’ve said before that grief is cumulative, and I still agree. Every loss brings up previous loss. Living with an open heart welcomes in the beauty and joy of this life, but it also allows in the pain and suffering.
On Tuesday, I finally got over my PTSD of the Gritman imaging center and went in for an MRI of my left knee. It had been bothering me for a few months, but with a wedding and endless house projects leading up to that, there just wasn’t time. Got a call later that day to find out my mom’s dog died. Less than a week before, he was still leaping 6 ft fences in a single bound. A few days of lethargy, one missed meal, and a lick on the hand rather than a mid-air slurp of my nose alerted my mom that something was definitely not right. A trip to the vet, a large mass, most likely cancerous, bleeding into his abdomen. He never came home from the vets. I cried.
On Thursday, it was Jim and my wedding anniversary. Being newly remarried, I was not sure what to do with this day. I woke up sad, I ran, I went to work, the day passed and I think I was the only person to remember the date. I got a message that afternoon that one of the babies I work with had died that morning after a long and heart breaking illness. The combination of relief and grief is especially hard to process. I cried.
On Friday, I had breakfast with another widow here in our community. She is just a few months out, and we talked about details like how long you wear your wedding ring and credit cards. We discussed the whole PTSD of emergency rooms, MRI images and hospitals. How our kids are handling their grief, and the pros and cons of staying put vs moving as far away as possible. We talked of the “sanctification” of the dead spouse, and how difficult that is when you remember the bad times alongside of the good. Breakfast ended. We went our separate ways with a promise to meet again soon. I cried.
This weekend, I lost myself in chainsaw work and yoga classes. Making and eating good food. Hugs from my honey and conversations with good friends. Touched base with both of my kids and spent time with all the furry creatures in my life. It’s hard to remain sad when I am so surrounded by such abundance.
This morning, I got my MRI results. Torn meniscus with bony and cartilaginous bruising. As I suspected, but a bit of a bummer none-the-less. I did not cry, and I will run tomorrow.
For today, I will go to my little guy’s funeral service. I will stop at my mom’s and pick up all the scrap lumber she salvaged from her 6 foot fence extension to turn it into a chicken coop in the Spring. I will realize that just like Jim was not a saint, neither am I, and that, perhaps, is a harder realization than anything else. Just because I lived through his death does not make me immune to future pain and suffering. I am no more equipped than anyone else to have the right things to say or do in the face of someone else’s sorrow. Just because Jim and I made it “til death do us part” doesn’t mean this current marriage is happily ever after without effort, resettling of priorities, and thoughtful communication. This afternoon, I will continue battle with sweet briar roses, I will kiss that sweet man when he comes home, and I will do a little research to be better prepared for my upcoming orthopedic consult on my knee. I will sleep in the arms of the man I married, and feel blessed far beyond what I deserve.
Perhaps the greatest comfort of all is in knowing that we are all individuals and we are all human. I cannot take away the pain and suffering of another, but I can stand by and bear witness. Everyone walks through the valley that is darker than death, they must walk alone, but everyone walks it. Grief is as unique as the circumstance, yet universal. It is the price we pay for love. I will cry, but I will also laugh.