I do not believe that grief is insurmountable. I do believe it creeps up on you at times when you think you’ve already kicked its butt. I don’t sit around in a stupor day in and day out. I’m not a sad or bitter person. I have afternoons, like today, that are painful. I suspect that will be the case for the rest of my life.
I don’t have that many vivid memories of the weeks after Lisa’s death. Perhaps I was just numb to the world. However, the week and a half prior to her death are fraught with memories – this week I struggle to escape them. I don’t believe that it is the date February 24 that has me so down right now. I think it is these memories, suppressed for months, that are all flooding back to consciousness.
One year ago last Monday was the last time that Lisa saw the girls. She was telling them goodbye as they packed for a trip to the beach with their friends. As DJ walked up the stairs in only a t-shirt, Lisa said, “Great, my last memory of DJ will be her butt hanging out under that shirt.” I said, “They’ll be back Thursday.” She replied, “I know.”
Not only did she know that they would be home Thursday, she also knew that this was likely the last time she would lay eyes on her daughters. How was she able to walk back to our bedroom with intuition telling her this was it? Lisa was always good at letting go. She was matter of fact. It was what it was. She could not change it.
They return to the beach this Sunday. It will be hard for me to say goodbye even knowing I’ll see them again in three days.
Wednesday would have been her last night in our house. Her last shower at home. I remember calling the girls at the beach that evening to tell them Lisa was going back to the hospital. She was packing, showering and shaving her legs – something all women do before a visit to the doctor. The phone conversations were difficult.
One year ago yesterday, Lisa and I had four wonderful hours in the Duke waiting room. We were annoyed at the time it took to check in, but what incredible conversation and laughs we shared. Food from the snack shop. A conversation with another woman who was undergoing major surgery the following day. She didn’t know if she would make it. I wonder if she did?
That Saturday she told my parents goodbye.
“You’ve been good to me and you raised a good boy.”
We were put in ICU that night. She walked in seemingly fine. She had brushed her teeth and walked to the bathroom thirty minutes before in the cancer center. When I returned after dinner, she couldn’t stand up – she had lost the function in her legs; the fear and disbelief we shared in those moments.
Right now each day has a memory; each day has a specific meaning. Most are painful.
So you endure. You plan things to look forward to. You talk to your best buddy in the office at work. You hunker down and ponder the past and type through cloudy eyes. You call your mom. You eat dinner out. And you allow yourself to live the grief – until it passes once again.